Taylor Chorney knows how to play the waiting game by now, after popping in and out of the Washington Capitals’ lineup all season.  Come in early for practice, stay late, keep your mind sharp, don’t overthink things. Wait for your name to get called.

It’s no different in the playoffs — the last time he got called up was when Brooks Orpik was scratched with an upper-body injury and Chorney saw 12 minutes, 10 seconds of ice time in Game 4 and 12 minutes, 2 seconds in Game 5 in Washington’s first-round series against Philadelphia.

The next time he gets called up could bring his time as a Capital full-circle, considering it was Chorney’s five playoff games as a Pittsburgh Penguin last year that first caught the Capitals’ scouts’ attention. With two blue-liners’ health in question, the Capitals could turn to Chorney again as they start their second series against Pittsburgh on Thursday. Orpik still isn’t cleared to play and defenseman Karl Alzner hasn’t practiced the two days leading up to Game 1.

Alzner’s taking maintenance days related to an upper-body injury, according to the Capitals, but his absence in the locker room highlights the lineup merry-go-round Chorney and a few of the Caps’ eight defensemen found themselves on all season long.

“It’s not necessarily stress,” Chorney said Wednesday after practice, “but at the same time you don’t want to overthink it. For me, I just have to make sure that whenever the opportunity comes, I’m ready. It could be tomorrow, it could be the next game, it could be two rounds from now, you don’t really know.”

Not that Chorney’s complaining – he knew when he signed a two-year contract extension with Washington in February he wouldn’t be a lineup mainstay – and those 24 minutes and 12 seconds in the playoffs were worth the uncertainty. He works (and waits) with guys like Michael Latta and Pittsburgh native Mike Weber, and he felt good about the two games he’s played this postseason.

“Coming into a series like that, it’s just so intense, so there’s really no time to feel it out. You’ve just got to go out there, jump right in and start playing. I think that probably helped me quite a bit, it was a good experience to just get out there and go,” Chorney said.

“It’s all worth it if you get one game. We’re all waiting to just get that opportunity.”

If Chorney does end up in the lineup against Pittsburgh, he won’t have much to mine from his previous experience with the Penguins. There’s some leftover familiarity with the “studs” still on the team and a few of the younger guys Chorney played with in the minors, he said, but overall what Chorney’s carried with him ever since is the confidence he got in Pittsburgh.

That confidence is what helped him when he played 40 games during the regular season while Orpik was out with a lower-body injury, and Chorney said it served him again in the playoffs.

“Getting a chance to play in the playoffs kind of gives you confidence,” Chorney said. “Just knowing that the work you put in can get you to that point, and once you get out there you can hold your own. I think you can improve from something like that.”