Capitals

Quick Links

The 25 Most Important Players for the Caps: No. 10 Brooks Orpik

The 25 Most Important Players for the Caps: No. 10 Brooks Orpik

Every player on an NHL team plays a role.Some, of course, play bigger roles than others.

In the coming weeks, Tarik El-Bashir and JJ Regan will rank the 25 most important players in the Caps’ organization, from least to most important, weighing factors such as past production, future potential and intangibles.

Today’s player: No. 10 Brooks Orpik

There are many who believed that the 2016-17 season would be Brooks Orpik's last in Washington.

When the Capitals signed Orpik to a five-year deal with a cap hit of $5.5 million per year in 2014, it was with the knowledge that his play would not match that cap hit in the later years of the contract. It's safe to say we have now reached that point.

But if you thought that would mean the Capitals would explore a buyout, it certainly does not sound as if general manager Brian MacLellan ever examined that option.

“I don't know that we really considered that,” MacLellan said when asked about a buyout for Orpik in July. “I thought Orpik had a good year last year, I thought him and [Nate] Schmidt played really well together on our third pair and I think we value what he brings to young defensemen.”

Here's the deal: whether you think the Caps should have pursued moving Orpik in the offseason is now irrelevant. He is still on the team, he will be on the team for this season and, with only five defensemen under contract, the Caps will need him to be an everyday player.

Orpik, who will turn 37 before the start of the season, is a physical, shutdown defenseman. He does not have great speed which can get him into trouble in this age of hockey when speed and quick transitions are more the norm. He also has a tendency of getting caught pinching in the neutral zone looking for a hit and he does not have the wheels to get back in time to cover his mistake.

The Caps may expect Orpik to be an everyday player, but it is going to be on the third pairing. Even after losing Karl Alzner and Nate Schmidt, Orpik's days of being a top-four player are over.

So why does a bottom-pairing defenseman climb all the way to No. 10 on our list? The team greatly values his leadership in the locker room, but what really makes him important this season is how much the coaches will lean on him to help the younger players.

As mentioned above, the Caps have only five NHL defensemen under contract for this season. Assuming they keep seven on the roster (three pairs, plus one extra), that leaves two open spots that will likely be filled throughout the season by prospects such as Christian Djoos and Madison Bowey. Orpik is going to spend most, if not the entire season playing alongside a young prospect and the coaches are going to lean heavily on his experience and leadership to help those players develop.

“We have a bunch of young defensemen that are coming up,” MacLellan said. “I think we have like 10 or 12 guys that are under 22 and they're all pretty good players. We're going to value the ability of Orpik to mentor these guys.”

The Caps are taking a gamble by looking to their prospects to fill not just one, but two holes in their defense next season including a spot in the top four. The more Orpik can help those rookies with the transition to the NHL, the better the Caps will be as a team.

Check out the full list of the Caps most important players as it comes out here and check out previous player profiles below.

— No. 25 Aaron Ness
— No. 24 Chandler Stephenson
— No. 23 Riley Barber
 No. 22 Pheonix Copley
— No. 21 Devante Smith-Pelly
— No. 20 Taylor Chorney
— No. 19 Nathan Walker

 No. 18 Philipp Grubauer
 No. 17 Christian Djoos

— No. 16 Madison Bowey
— No. 15 Jay Beagle
— No. 14 Brett Connolly
— No. 13 Tom Wilson
— No. 12 Lars Eller
— No. 11 Jakub Vrana

Quick Links

Game 32: Capitals vs. Avalanche Date, Time, How to Watch, Game Thread

usatsi_9616474.jpg
USA TODAY Sports

Game 32: Capitals vs. Avalanche Date, Time, How to Watch, Game Thread

What: Washington Capitals vs. Colorado Avalanche

Where: Capital One Arena, Washington, D.C.

When: 7:00 p.m. ET

How to Watch: Capitals-Avalanche will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington (Channel Finder)

Live Stream: You can watch the Capitals-Avalanche game on NBC Sports Washington's live stream page.

You can also stream the game online with no cable TV subscription on fuboTV (try for free!).

WHEN IS THE CAPITALS-AVALANCHE GAME?

The Capitals (18-12-1) take on the Avalanche (14-13-2) Tuesday, December 12 at 7:00 p.m. ET at Capital One Arena.

WHAT CHANNEL IS THE CAPITALS-AVALANCHE GAME ON?

The Capitals-Avalanche game will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington. Coverage kicks off with Capitals FaceOff at 6:00 p.m. followed by Capitals GameTime at 6:30 p.m. Stay with NBC Sports Washington following the game for Caps Extra, Caps Overtime at 10:00 p.m. and Caps in 30 at 11 p.m. for all your postgame coverage. (NBC Sports Washington channel Finder)

6:00 p.m. — Caps FaceOff
6:30 p.m. — Caps GameTime
7:00 p.m. — Capitals vs. Avalanche
9:30 p.m. — Caps Extra
10:00 p.m. — Caps Overtime
11:00 p.m. — Caps in 30

WHERE CAN I STREAM THE CAPITALS-AVALANCHE GAME?

The Capitals-Avalanche game, as well as Caps GameTime and Caps Extra, is available to stream live here through NBC Sports Washington's live stream page and is available to authenticated NBC Sports Washington subscribers on desktops, tablets, mobile devices and connected TVs anywhere in the United States.

The game is also available to stream, along with all the pregame and postgame shows, on fuboTV (try for free).

WHAT ARE THE PROJECTED LINES FOR CAPITALS-AVALANCHE?

Here are the Caps' projected lines:

Forwards
Alex Ovechkin - Nicklas Backstrom - Tom Wilson
Jakub Vrana - Evgeny Kuznetsov - Alex Chiasson
Brett Connolly - Lars Eller - Andre Burakovsky
Chandler Stephenson - Jay Beagle - Devante Smith-Pelly

Defensemen
Dmitry Orlov - Matt Niskanen
Brooks Orpik - John Carlson
Christian Djoos - Madison Bowey

Goalies
Philipp Grubauer starts with Braden Holtby as backup.

Scratches: T.J. Oshie (upper-body injury), Taylor Chorney

CAPITALS-AVALANCHE OPEN THREAD

Use the comment section below to discuss the game action with other Capitals fans. 

For all the latest Caps coverage, follow Capitals Insider Tarik El-Bashir, Capitals correspondent JJ Regan and the NBC Sports Capitals account on Twitter. Be sure check out our Capitals page and NBC Sports Washington's Facebook page.

Quick Links

4 reasons the Caps lost to the Islanders

usatsi_10474007_1.jpg
USA TODAY Sports

4 reasons the Caps lost to the Islanders

A red-hot Capitals team traveled to Brooklyn where they were handed a 3-1 loss by the New York Islanders. Washington gave up an early goal in the first period and two early goals in the second that ultimately put the game out of reach.

Here is how it happened.

The first 94 seconds of the second period

The Caps trailed 1-0 at the end of the first and seemed fortunate to be down by only one. That luck ran out very quickly in the second period. Andrew Ladd scored just 36 seconds into the period and John Tavares added another just 58 seconds later. A 1-0 deficit turned into a 3-0 deficit in just 94 seconds.

Defensive breakdowns

Braden Holtby was pulled in the second period after giving up three goals, but if is hard to put this loss on Holtby's shoulders. He did not get much help at all from the defense as the Caps were frequently caught out of position by the Islanders. Watch how little movement there is from the players in white on this play.

Josh Bailey found himself in the middle of four Caps players, none challenged him and, even worse, no one covered John Tavares. It was an easy pass for Bailey and an easy goal for Tavares.

No sustained offensive pressure

The Islanders entered the game ranked 29th in goals against per game, yet the Caps could not take advantage. Washington fired 32 shots on goal, but could not create much sustained offensive pressure. There were not many cycles, not many won puck battles in the corners, not many second-chance opportunities, not many opportunities at all. Even the Caps' lone goal came from an end-to-end drive that Dmitry Orlov fired into the net.

Jaroslav Halak

While the Caps did not have many high-quality opportunities, the few they did have Jaroslav Halak was able to turn aside and he made it look easy. Halak has not had a great season, but you would not have known it given the way he played on Monday. He looked very comfortable in net, even when the Caps did manage to pressure him and recorded 31 saves on the night.