After the first practice prior to the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs, defenseman Dmitry Orlov thought that his Washington Capitals “looked good. We got a couple days and everyone’s just trying to recover. It’s not going to be easy and we know we’re playing against a good team who had a good season, is fast, good offensively but I think we can find ways to win games and the series.”
The team starts their best-of-seven first-round series against the Florida Panthers at FLA Live Arena in Sunrise on Tuesday (7:30 PM ET, NBC Sports Washington locally, ESPN2 nationally).
According to the 30-year-old, the keys toward eliminating the Presidents’ Trophy winners will be to “work hard, [being] ready on the forecheck is the most important thing. If we do that, we’re ready, and make [the] right plays in the offensive zone, it’s important. Also, whoever holds the puck the most in the series. [If we do that,] it’s going to be tough for them.”
On captain Alex Ovechkin, who returned to practice on Sunday after missing the final three regular-season games with an upper-body injury, Orlov described him as the “best goal-scorer in the league and goals are important. … We need every one and everyone healthy right now.”
As the NHL has changed and gotten faster and faster, Orlov said the emphasis is on “how you manage your gap” and how forwards support the defensemen, which is going to have to be fast against the Panthers. “Not a lot of room and opportunities if they do. … It’s going to be a tight game. Nobody believes in us but we’re going to beat ‘em. [We have guys] that have enough experience and know how to win so we’re going to be focusing on our game,” he added.
When asked about facing friend and fellow Novokuznetsk, Russia native Sergei Bobrovsky, the Panthers’ starting netminder, Orlov responded “on the ice, there’s no friends.” The two played together in the KHL and Bobrovsky was years ahead of him in youth hockey. “You basically see everyone for 10 hours in school and hockey,” he said.
By Harrison Brown