Brooks Orpik back on the ice, could he return soon?

Washington Capitals defenseman Brooks Orpik (44) checks Florida Panthers left wing Tomas Fleischmann (14) during the first quarter of an NHL hockey game, in Sunrise, Fla., Tuesday, Dec. 16, 2014. (AP Photo/Alan Diaz)
AP Photo/Alan Diaz

During morning skate on Tuesday at Kettler Capitals Iceplex, Caps fans saw someone on the ice they hadn’t seen December 7: Brooks Orpik.  The last time that Orpik played was during the 1-0 loss in Detroit on November 10.

Orpik did return to practice a couple of weeks later to workout with the team on November 30 but on December 7th, he left practice early.  It was an unspecified lower body injury, which set him back longer than the team anticipated.

Orpik’s first season in Washington was last year and he was a key player on the Caps blue line.  He ranked third in the NHL in hits with 306 and was fourth in the league in blocked shots with 192 which contributed to the Caps ranking sixth in goals against, a big improvement from ranking 22nd in that category the year before.  Picking up Orpik from the Penguins during that offseason was one of many reasons why the Caps became a better defensive team.

Nick Wass/AP

Prior to Tuesday, Orpik had been working out with strength and conditioning coach Mark Nemish.  After practice, Orpik told Washington Post reporter Isabelle Khurshudyan that it was hard to tell if the bone was completely healed but “it feels like it.”

In November, Orpik thought he could play through the injury but when he got reinjured again, he decided to shut down for a bit and not rush anything.  His bone needed eight weeks to heal.

Orpik skated before the team’s practice today at Kettler.  Marcus Johansson and Jay Beagle were with him on the ice.  There is still no timetable as when Orpik will return to the lineup.

Even though Orpik hasn’t played much this year the team is ranked first in goals against (109).  However, having dropped two tough losses on home ice, the Caps could certainly use Orpik’s presence on the blue line.  Now that he is getting his reps on the ice, hopefully he can return to action sooner rather than later.  Having won a cup with Pittsburgh in 2009, the Caps could use Orpik’s experience on the team this postseason, in addition to Justin Williams and Mike Richards, to get them over the hump.

By Michael Marzzacco

About Jon Sorensen

Jon has been a Caps fan since day one, attending his first game at the Capital Centre in 1974. His interest in the Caps has grown over the decades and included time as a season ticket holder. He has been a journalist covering the team for 10+ years, primarily focusing on analysis, analytics and prospect development.
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