While Trotz wouldn’t discuss the lineup on Saturday morning, Taylor Chorney appears to be in on the third pair with Nate Schmidt, meaning Orlov will be a healthy scratch for the first time this season.
“I’ve been kind of preparing like I’m going to be playing, so we’ll see,” Chorney said.
Karl Alzner wasn’t at morning skate, but the team said he was taking a maintenance day and Trotz said every player is “available” for Game 2 Saturday night against the Pittsburgh Penguins. Expect Alzner, who took two maintenance days earlier this week for an upper-body injury, to play.
Orlov and Schmidt misplayed Ben Lovejoy’s goal in the second period of Game 1 Thursday night because of a miscommunication. Schmidt stepped up as Nick Bonino skated into the Capitals’ zone, and both players ended up trying to do the same thing and running into each other. Bonino fed Lovejoy for a goal down low, and Trotz was left unhappy with how Orlov played the one-on-one.
Orlov’s breakdown of the play: “I made a mistake. Can’t lose one-on-one play and then they score.”
Trotz’s message to him: “You’re a good player. You’ve played lots of games. In the playoffs, everything’s about short-term memory and just move forward. You’re doing a lot of good things, so just go from there.”
Orlov had to watch the rest of the game, finishing with 5 minutes and 44 seconds of ice time, and that had a ripple effect to the rest of the blue line. Matt Niskanen played 32:11, John Carlson played 29:51 and both Karl Alzner and Brooks Orpik played at least 25 minutes.
Chorney played for the Penguins in the postseason last year, and that stage earned him a free agent contract with the Capitals. When Brooks Orpik missed three games in the first-round series against the Philadelphia Flyers because of an upper-body injury, Chorney played in the first two games.
In Game 4, his interference penalty led to a Flyers power play that they scored on. In Game 5, the game-winning goal banked in off his skate, unfortunate but not his fault. Mike Weber played in Game 6, but Trotz said that didn’t mean Chorney played poorly in Games 4 and 5.
“Chorns played well,” Trotz said. “The puck goes off his toe; that wasn’t why we made the change. People can assume that, but it wasn’t why we made the change.”
Said Chorney: “I don’t think it really had anything to do with the way I was playing. It was just one of those deals where you lose a couple games in a row and you’ve got to change something up.”
Here’s how the lineup is expected to look on Saturday night:
Alex Ovechkin-Nicklas Backstrom-T.J. Oshie
Marcus Johansson-Evgeny Kuznetsov-Justin Williams
Jason Chimera-Mike Richards-Andre Burakovsky
Daniel Winnik-Jay Beagle-Tom Wilson
Brooks Orpik-John Carlson
Karl Alzner-Matt Niskanen
Nate Schmidt-Taylor Chorney
Braden Holtby (starter)