After missing 40 games with a bone bruise during the regular season, defenseman Brooks Orpik seemed to finally be healthy heading into the first round of the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs. And he stayed that way until a hit from Philadelphia Flyers forward Ryan White sent him hobbling to the locker room with some help from head athletic trainer Greg Smith and the rest of the training staff.
After missing the rest of Game 3, head coach Barry Trotz announced Tuesday that the 35-year old blueliner would miss the possible series-clinching Game 4 tonight. Listed as day-to-day, Orpik’s absence is a huge loss for the Caps. His hard-hitting, shutdown style of play has been vital to the team’s success not only in the postseason, but in the regular season as well.
In the 49 games he missed, the Caps went 30-6-4, with a blueline that is still deep even without Orpik. Taylor Chorney (who played admirably in the regular season in place of Orpik) is expected to pair with Dmitry Orlov for tonight’s game. But although losing Orpik is bad for the Caps, the team should be just fine. Their record without him during the regular season proves that. Chorney could easily be an everyday player if give the chance, and trade deadline acquisition Mike Weber could fill in if the need arose.
With or without Orpik, the Caps have proven they can win, and will hopefully win the series tonight. While having him in the lineup is the ideal situation, the team should be in a position to win even without their big, tough rearguard. His absence should make for an interesting Game 4 and hopefully, he’ll be back soon to help the Caps make a run at the Cup.
By Michael Fleetwood