Game 3 Pre-Game Buzz
The NHL got the Brooks Orpik hit right with a three game suspension. They only reason they got it right, though, is because Olli Maatta’s injured.
If Maatta would have been fine and returned to the game, there’s no question Brooks Orpik would be in the lineup tonight for Game 3.
That’s what needs to change for the NHL to really take a step in the right direction. Injured or not, all head shots need to be ruled the same way. The NHL deserves some applause for taking action here but until action also happens when deliberate head shots happen for players who weren’t injured, nothing is really going to change.
Orlov or Weber?
Many will be watching which direction the Capitals go in replacing Orpik tonight.
Do they go with the quicker more skilled defenseman in Dmitry Orlov or Mike Weber who can add a physical element, penalty kill presence?
While the Penguins have torched Orlov this season, the easy call for the Capitals should still be Orlov and based off their morning skate, it appears Orlov will be in.
Weber being able to handle the Penguins speed would be quite the daunting task.
Washington went 30-6-4 without Orpik during the regular season.
Nate Schmidt who has also struggled mightily against the Penguins this season, played over 500 minutes with John Carlson this season and is the likely player to move into the top-4 with Orpik out.
During the regular season, when Schmidt – Carlson were on the ice together, the Capitals allowed 1.87 Goals Against/60. Orpik – Carlson together, Capitals allowed 2.21 Goals Against/60.
Orpik – Carlson have been on the ice together for 3 goals against vs the Penguins, Orpik individually on for 4 of the 5 goals against.
Still, Orpik’s going to be a loss for Washington.
Penguins ‘D’ Situation
Olli Maatta is, as expected, officially out of the lineup tonight. Mike Sullivan didn’t rule out him for the rest of Round 2.
The Penguins plan to play Brian Dumoulin and Trevor Daley with Kris Letang, though, the pairings figure to settle as Daley – Letang, Dumoulin – Lovejoy in the top-4.
Sullivan played coy on Sunday on which defenseman goes into the lineup for Maatta.
“We have a couple of guys that are with us right now that are good players that have helped us win,” Sullivan said. “The coaching staff is going to decide which guy we put in there that we think is the best to help us win.”
Monday’s morning skate pointed to Derrick Pouliot likely getting the nod over Schultz as Schultz stayed out late with the scratches.
Sullivan, though, has played some mind games with his morning skates during the post-season. He called his lineup a game-time decision moments ago, while saying he’s been pleased with how Pouliot’s progressing.
Guess that means Pouliot’s attention to details off the ice have improved to the coaches liking.
Pouliot played most this season with Ben Lovejoy, north of 145 minutes with the Penguins driving possession on 47% of their shot attempts when the two were paired together, Pittsburgh allowing 1.62 goals against/60.
Pouliot and Ian Cole were together this season for close to 90 minutes with the Penguins driving possession on 60% of their shot attempts, allowing just 0.69 goals against/60.