Dmitry Orlov has been suspended two games for boarding Flyers’ forward Brayden Schenn in the third period of Sunday’s game, leaving the Capitals without one of their top-four defensemen for a key set of back-to-back games this week.
The NHL’s department of player safety deemed Orlov’s hit a “violent check” and continued a season-long trend of penalizing those who choose to drive players into the boards from behind.
Orlov, 22, will forfeit $7,076.92 in pay and is eligible to return to the lineup on March 8 against Phoenix. It is the first suspension in the defenseman’s career, which spans 101 regular season games over the past three years.
In a video explanation of the suspension, the NHL’s department of player safety outlines the retaliatory nature of Orlov’s hit which was preceded by a clean check from Schenn against the Capitals’ defenseman 10 seconds earlier on the same shift.
“Orlov tracks Schenn from behind and then launches into him with significant force,” the NHL said. “Driving up and through Schenn’s numbers and causing him to crash violently into the glass.”
While Schenn turned and saw Orlov coming as he approached the loose puck in the corner, the NHL makes it clear that does not give the blueliner “the green light” to leave his feet and deliver a check from behind.
“The onus is upon Orlov to avoid this check entirely or at the very least to minimize it,” the league said in its explanation.
Orlov received a five-minute major penalty for boarding at 9:33 of the third period Sunday, an infraction that shifted the game in the Flyers’ favor and allowed them to mount a comeback en route to a 5-4 overtime win. Now not only did the hit cost the Capitals a chance to close out a victory, but it will test their blueline depth in games at Philadelphia and Boston Wednesday and Thursday.
Jack Hillen could ready to return to the lineup after missing five months with a fractured tibial plateau in his right leg, making filling in for Orlov a simple matter of activating the 28-year-old from long-term injured reserve. If not, the logical recall options from the AHL’s Hershey Bears are likely prospect Nate Schmidt or journeyman Julien Brouillette.