The Washington Capitals have not been playing their best hockey in recent weeks. While they have still managed to win some games, some of their star players have struggled with recent production.
A player that Barry Trotz depends on to provide offensive production from the blueline is Dmitry Orlov. Orlov has had a solid season, as he has put up 8 goals and 28 points through 75 games. The 24-year old Russian has played more minutes over the past several weeks, due to the recent injury of fellow defenseman John Carlson, who just returned.
Orlov has been paired with veteran defenseman Brooks Orpik for a little while. The defense pairing has shown flashes of greatness, but at times, flashes of weakness.
Barry Trotz’s thinking with the Orlov/Orpik defensive pair is simple. Orlov is a good puck mover, that can push the puck up the ice. Orpik is a stay-at-home defenseman, who can protect a good puck moving defenseman if he gets caught up the ice. Orlov and Orpik bring different things to the ice, which is why they should mesh well together.
While Orlov is a good puck-moving defenseman, he has had some bad goofs in the defensive zone over the past few games. Listed below are some of the recent Orlov goofs in recent games.
Orlov turnover leading to Cam Atkinson’s goal for Columbus
Orlov turnover leads to Kyle Brodziak’s goal for St. Louis
Orlov makes a poor defensive play on Blues the results in a goal
Orlov turn’s over puck in defensive zone leading to Penguins goal
Most of Orlov’s turnovers have been because he has not been quick on the puck. Orlov has hesitated on several instances in the defensive zone. In the defensive zone, a defenseman must be hard on the puck, and they must have the urgency at all times to clear the puck out of the zone. Defensemen must think quickly, and they must avoid turning the puck over in the wrong areas of the ice.
HOW SHOULD BARRY TROTZ HANDLE ORLOV?
Dmitry Orlov is a confident skater with the puck in open ice. Orlov is an offensive threat from the blueline, which is helpful for the Capitals attack.
In order for Orlov to continue to grow his game, he must improve in the defensive zone. Most of Orlov’s recent goofs are because of his hesitation with the puck. But hesitation is something that is fixable with the right coaching.
Orlov may need to be scratched for a game or two. Barry Trotz can teach him the x’s and o’s about the defensive zone. Trotz can help him with his decision-making, and he can make sure Orlov becomes just as confident in the defensive zone as he is already in the offensive zone.
Dmitry Orlov is still a promising young NHL blueliner, and there is still tremendous upside. He is only scratching the surface with his game, but with Trotz’s coaching direction, he is in very good hands. There is nothing wrong with scratching players, because it can help them in the long run. Trotz is a very good teacher and listener, and he will make sure his players are doing the right things on the ice.
By George Foussekis