Dmitry Orlov was excited for what he expected to be his second season in the NHL this past summer. But while he was in the American Hockey League with the Hershey Bears during the lockout, Orlov suffered a pair of concussions, the second of which sidelined him for three months.
Orlov returned to the Bears’ lineup earlier in March and played four games before he was recalled to Washington to help patch the blue line as injuries continue to pile up. Tuesday morning at Consol Energy Center, as all the cameras crowded around Alex Ovechkin, a shy Orlov spoke about how happy he is to rejoin the Capitals.
“I feel great and feel excited be back because you played long time and just in summer time I wait my second season, working hard and try to be back,” Orlov said. “It’s hard for me; I have injury and I can’t come and I need to work in Hershey, get my condition back because I long time did nothing. It’s hard time for me. But I’m here and I’m so happy and I think about this game today and try to help the team because we need to step up, need the points. Hopefully I help [do] something.”
Orlov will skate with Jeff Schultz against the Penguins in his first NHL game since April 7, 2012, against the New York Rangers.
Orlov didn’t have an extended period of time under the tutelage of Coach Adam Oates while the Capitals’ bench boss was in Hershey during the lockout because of the concussions. But Oates isn’t overly concerned about the 21-year-old fitting in.
“He played a lot of games here last year. He played some down there, so it’s not like he doesn’t know what we’re trying to accomplish,” Oates said. “But he has missed a lot of hockey — two concussions — he’s back playing and been playing good, so he’s here.”
Orlov will be the 10th defensemen to play for the Capitals through the first 29 games of the season.
Orlov said he’s feeling much better and that aside from being a little tired in the initial games back with Hershey, he’s back to his usual self.
“You need to stay positive when I have injury,” Orlov said. “It’s so hard because no parents who can help you, who can speak to you and nobody Russian was in Hershey and it’s hard for me because I can’t easy speak for English. But my agent help and thanks to guys, Hershey players and coaches and athletic trainers to help me out. Stay positive, just to come in locker room to smile and joking.”
Some other lineup notes from the morning skate:
>> Neither Tom Poti (back) nor John Erskine (left hand/wrist) are with the team in Pittsburgh. Poti was placed on injured reserve to make room for Brooks Laich on the 23-man active roster and isn’t expected to join the team on the road trip, but Oates said it’s possible Erskine could meet up with the Capitals in Winnipeg later this week.
>> Braden Holtby will start in goal tonight while the Penguins will go with Marc-Andre Fleury.
>> Joey Crabb, Wojtek Wolski and Aaron Volpatti figure to be the healthy scratches for the Capitals tonight. Based off everything at the morning skate, here’s how the lineup will likely shake out: