Everyone spent more time on the ice because of overtime, but Matt Niskanen played 32:11, John Carlson played 29:51 and both Karl Alzner and Brooks Orpik played at least 25 minutes while Orlov sat.
“I’m not thinking about how I’m not playing,” Orlov said at Friday’s optional skate. “I just watch the game and hope that we’re going to win, take Game 1. Right now we need to move forward and focus on the second game.”
It’s a feeling Orlov knows well, trying to move on from a mistake and the frustration that lingers. Lovejoy’s goal was partly the result of a miscommunication between Orlov and defense partner Nate Schmidt. Schmidt stepped up as Nick Bonino skated into the Capitals’ zone, and both players ended up trying to do the same thing. Bonino fed Lovejoy for a goal down low.
Orlov’s breakdown of the play was relatively simple — “I made a mistake,” Orlov said. “Can’t lose one-on-one play and then they score” — but the possible consequences are apparent. The defenseman struggled with turnovers toward the end of the regular season, causing three in five games that resulted in goals, but managed to stay in the lineup despite Washington Coach Barry Trotz’s frustrations and notch his first full career NHL season.
Trotz had more patience in the regular season, when Orlov’s offensive prowess mattered more than his occasional slips. Heading into Game 2 of the Eastern Conference semifinals, there’s less room for error.
“It’s about getting the four, and you don’t have time to wait for people to get on board, you don’t have time for guys to get their play up,” Trotz said. “You might give a little bit of room, but the leash is a lot shorter in the playoffs than it is in the regular season. Eighty-two, you can sort of work through it. When you want to be the first one to four, or the first one to not lose four, you don’t have as much time, so the thought process is probably a little different.”
Orlov said Trotz didn’t mention the goal to him after the game Thursday or on Friday morning. He expects to speak with his coach after the team meeting, and knows Trotz could shuffle his defensive pairs, as he’s done before after Orlov’s turnovers, or make a lineup change altogether.
“Every player wants to play, I don’t know what’s gonna happen right now,” Orlov said.