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Brooks Orpik won’t travel with Capitals for games at Montreal and Winnipeg

(AP Photo / LM Otero)
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Top-pair defenseman Brooks Orpik won’t travel to the Capitals’ next two games, at Montreal Thursday night and at Winnipeg Saturday, the 10th and 11th straight games he will miss.

Orpik will stay in Washington to continue rehab on a lower-body injury that Coach Barry Trotz says is “not serious” and won’t require surgery. Orpik confirmed that diagnosis Wednesday, saying he doesn’t have a timetable, “just whenever it’s close to 100 percent.”

“I don’t know what you mean by serious,” Orpik said. “I mean, it’s not going to kill me. … It’s probably not serious, just frustrating because you don’t like missing any games, let alone however many I’ve missed now.”

Orpik, 35, hasn’t played since leaving the second period early against Detroit on Nov. 10. He started skating with the team at practice again on Monday, limited with a different color of jersey than the rest of his teammates. The Capitals went 7-1-1 in the nine games Orpik has missed, with Nate Schmidt skating alongside John Carlson on the top defensive pairing in place of Orpik.

That the team has continued to play well without Orpik has given Washington more comfort in telling him to take it easy.

“We’ll always do what’s best for the player, but knowing Brooks’s makeup, that he’d want to get back as soon as possible, this allows us to maybe keep him a little bit more patient,” Trotz said.

Orpik said the most frustrating part about the injury was that he doesn’t know how it happened, but he said he’s not surprised that it’s been a “slow healer” once doctors told him what the injury is. Trotz has said that if Washington were in the playoffs, Orpik would play, but since that’s not the case, better safe than sorry.

“I’ll just keep setting myself back if I try to come back too early,” Orpik said. “That’s probably the tough thing, feeling a little bit better, then wanting to push it, but then you’re not allowed to.”