Talking With Dima: Dmitry Orlov Discusses First Goal, Alex Ovechkin’s Scoring Drought, New York Rangers, and COVID-19 In Interview With Russian Media Outlet Sport24

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On Saturday afternoon (February 20), Washington Capitals defenseman Dmitry Orlov scored his first goal of the abbreviated 2020-21 NHL season in a home game against the New York Rangers. Recently, the longtime Caps blueliner shared his impressions about the game, the scheduling changes, and other topics with Russian sports media outlet Sport24.

Discussing the Caps’ loss to the Rangers, Orlov indicated that he and the team were not happy despite the fact he scored his first goal:

“When you score at the last minute, you hope that in the next period you will play much better and tougher, but we did not succeed, we did not show our game. In our zone, we were not fast enough and just accompanied the opponent. We need to be sharper, faster and play better…Yes, we lost, we need to analyze the mistakes and forget this game, tomorrow is a new one. Moreover, the start time of game has changed again so we do not have as much time to recover”.

Orlov analyzed what went wrong in the game against New York:

“They [Rangers] were faster on the puck and won the puck battles. Of course, we could have scored more, but I don’t think we deserved to win. After all, in this game the Rangers’ players were better than us. We played poorly in the defense zone: we didn’t take apart the players, didn’t cover them. Somehow they rode one after another with a little train, but this did not lead to anything good.”

Orlov was asked about the numerous schedule changes and cancellations due to the ongoing pandemic, and he responded by admitting that the abbreviated season has been difficult in some regards:

“Yes, I’m used to it, such a season this year. There is nothing we can do. People try to rearrange the games somehow, because there are massive infections [of COVID] in teams. The schedule is quite difficult, we play every second day, maybe even two matches in a row. Although we don’t have much choice: we are told what to do, and we do it. But this is in any case better than sitting in a bubble”.

Since their last defeat against the Pittsburgh Penguins, Capitals Head Coach Peter Laviolette emphasized reliable defense, which has shown through in the team’s victories against Pittsburgh and then the Buffalo Sabres.

Orlov commented on the team’s commitment to better play, saying, “We have meetings where we discuss how to play, what to change. Coaches highlight our mistakes, and we try to follow the guidelines they give us. Today it didn’t work out, but before that, yes, one might say, they played from the stove in order to get reliability in defense, and only then boldly run into the attack and create chances.”

Orlov also talked about Laviolette as the Capitals’ coach, and reported that he talks to the team after defeats, revealing that Laviolette does not shout at the team but “when the team is not playing very well, of course, he can ‘wake us up’  with words so that we wake up and start playing”.

The Capitals’ goaltending situation has been one of interest this season, with presumed starter Ilya Samsonov for an extended period after being placed on the COVID-19 protocol list and fellow young netminder Vitek Vanecek seeing the bulk of time in the crease in that span. Orlov, also sidelined on the protocol list, touched on the goalie situation with Sport24:

“It’s hard to say since I haven’t played that many games this season. In principle, he [Vanecek] looks good… Vanechek tries, does his job. I think the guys are confident in him, especially since he is spending his first year in the NHL. For a beginner this is a great season.”

Responding to speculation on whether Samsonov would play against the New Jersey Devils [he did not], he said, “I have no idea, to be honest. I only know what time we need to be in the arena, but I have no information on the lineup.” Orlov indicated he had not seen any video of Samsonov’s games with Hershey but said, “Honestly, I didn’t, but I know that he lost one and won one. Of course, we will be glad to see Ilya after our return. It’s always good when there are many Russians on the team, we support each other and we always communicate. It’s good that Ilya has come back and started playing, I hope he will be in the ranks”.

Orlov’s discussion with Sport24 also touched on his own personal experience with the coronavirus in Moscow, as he tested positive for antibodies, in contrast to the experience of Evgeny Kuznetsov and Samsonov, who were both ill for a longer period of time.

“I had symptoms for only two days. There was no lung damage or any other complications. Of course, you worry, because it’s a new disease, a little-studied virus. I took a break after it and did nothing for three weeks. The doctors advised me to see how I would feel after the transferred virus. But I rested more: usually 2-3 weeks, and this year it turned out that I had almost two months of vacation without training”.

One of the biggest additions to the Capitals this season (quite literally) is veteran defenseman Zdeno Chara, and Orlov discussed his fellow rearguard as well as the fact that he knows five languages, “He is a good person, sociable. All the guys on the team respect him. He has been in the league for so many years, he has seen a lot during this time. Yes, we communicate. He even speaks a little Russian, knows some words”.

Due to Alex Ovechkin’s four-game scoring drought [broken during the team’s against the Devils], some speculation on whether it could be chalked up to bad luck or the Capitals’ captain being out of condition as a result of quarantining had emerged in some circles. Orlov gave his thoughts on the speculation of his countryman and longtime teammate, saying:

“Hard to say. Sasha does not score, does not score, and then one day, he gets a hat-trick. You don’t have to worry about him. Everything will be fine. Of course, we need his goals. After all, he is the best sniper not only in our team, but in the entire league. Now we will increase the pace, because the season is short and we have to fight for every point”.

Lastly, Orlov touched upon his own offensive output and his first goal of the season:

“I had 10 games without points, I was unhappy with my game, and it put pressure on me. I tried to play according to the situation… It so happened that I got the puck although I first wanted to pass. But the player I wanted to pass to was not open so I shot it towards the net. It worked out well”.

The original interview with can be found here.

By Diane Doyle

Related Reading
Rangers Drop Capitals, 4-1; Dmitry Orlov Scores First Of The Season
Sport24 Russian Interview With Orlov — 2/21/2021
Sports Express Russia: NHL News — Orlov Discusses Caps/Rangers
Washington Post: Caps Fall Flat Against Rangers Ending 2 Game Winning Streak

About Diane Doyle

Been a Caps fan since November 1975 when attending a game with my then boyfriend and now husband.
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