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Capitals' Dmitry Orlov on contract talks: 'We'll see'

Capitals' Dmitry Orlov on contract talks: 'We'll see'

CRANBERRY TOWNSHIP, Pa.— The Capitals and Dmitry Orlov’s agent have remained in contact, but the restricted free agent sounded on Sunday night unsure of exactly where he stands with the organization that drafted him in 2009.

“I don’t know. It’s hard to say,” Orlov said, asked if he’s confident that a deal will get worked out in the coming days. “We have a good last season [as] a team. It’s always nice to play for team who have good stars, good people and systems.”

Orlov made his comments at the Penguins' practice facility in suburban Pittsburgh, where Team Russia is preparing for the World Cup of Hockey. Russia faces Canada in a pre-tournament exhibition game on Wednesday night before heading to Toronto.

RELATED: CARLSON SCORES ON HOLTBY IN PRE-TOURNAMENT GAME

Although Orlov, like all RFAs, is insured through the NHL and NHLPA, he’s still assuming some risk by participating in the eight-team tournament since he doesn't have a contract. Orlov, though, insisted that it’s not a major concern for him.

“I’m not think like that,” the 25-year-old said. “It’s always fun to play for national team…especially in this tournament because all the best players going to play there.”

“I’m not try to think about much about contract; I have an agent to do all my work,” he added, referring to his agent, Mark Gandler. “I try to focus on my game, not think about other things [like] contract. Every player wants to have contract. Every player wants to know where he’s going to play after World Cup. But right now, I focus on World Cup and see how it goes.”

Orlov acknowledged that he spoke to head coach Barry Trotz and associate coach Todd Reirden over the summer about the bigger role the organization sees him assuming this season. Late last month, in fact, Trotz told reporters that he see a "great opportunity" for Orlov in Washington.

"He called me a couple times in the summer," Orlov said of Trotz. "And Todd Reirden also called me, too. We talked about next season. But we’ll see, we’ll see.”

As an RFA, Orlov's options are fairly limited if he's unable to strike a deal with the Capitals. One option would be to play in the KHL, where CSKA Moscow owns his negotiating rights. Orlov, however, said it's his preference to stay in the NHL.  

“Yeah, of course, I play five years in USA so of course I like it here,” he said. “And I would like to stay here. But I don’t know how it’s going to happen. We’ll see.”

Orlov earned $2.25 million in salary last season and counted $2 million against the salary cap. The Capitals have $3.45 million in cap room but cannot commit all of that to Orlov.

Training camp opens in Arlington on Sept. 23.

MORE CAPITALS: HOLTBY MORE WORRIED ABOUT FACING KUZNETSOV THAN OVECHKIN

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Will the Caps be able to take advantage of home ice in Game 5?

Will the Caps be able to take advantage of home ice in Game 5?

There's a saying in sports that goes, "A series doesn't start until a team loses at home." For the Washington Capitals and Columbus Blue Jackets, their series won't start until someone wins at home.

Four games into the series, the road team has won every game. Columbus took Game 1 and Game 2 from Capital One Arena and the Caps answered back by winning Game 3 and Game 4 in Ohio.

"We came [to Columbus] to try to get the first one," Barry Trotz said after Thursday's win. "Did that. We came here to get the second one. Did that. All we've done is just got on even terms."

Now the series is a best of three with two of those final three games in Washington, but how much of an advantage does that really give the Caps?

"We've got to make sure that we're ready to go," Trotz said. "I think we have been since we got here. We've just got to do it at home."

The various playoff struggles the Caps have suffered in the Alex Ovechkin era have been well-documented to this point. One particularly maddening issue is the team's struggles to win at home. Since 2008, the first year the Ovechkin-led Caps made the playoffs, the team is just 28-25 in home playoff games. Since 2015, Trotz's first season as head coach, the Caps are 12-10 in Washington.

Part of that is just the nature of hockey. Upsets are prevalent in the playoffs in the NHL and home-ice advantage does not mean as much as it does in other sports. But it should mean more than 28-25.

Besides having the crowd on your side, home ice also provides matchup advantages. The home team gets the second line change at home, meaning during a stoppage in play the home coach gets the opportunity to see who the opponent puts on the ice before making his own change. For the Caps, this means getting Dmitry Orlov and Matt Niskanen on the ice against Artemi Panarin.

Trotz has matched his top shutdown pair against Columbus' top line all series long. According to Natural Stat Trick, when Niskanen was on the ice in Game 4 he held Panarin's Corsi For percentage to 36.36. When Niskanen was not on the ice, Panarin's percentage shot up to 71.43. 

Theoretically, it should be much easier for Trotz to get those favorable matchups at home. Now all the Caps have to do is take advantage.

"Our home record hasn't been really great in the last little stretch at the end of the season here and obviously the first two games of the playoffs," Trotz said. "We owe it to our fans, we owe it to ourselves to take advantage of that."

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John Tortorella has no answers, walks out of postgame press conference after Game 4

John Tortorella has no answers, walks out of postgame press conference after Game 4

In each of the first three games of the series, the Columbus Blue Jackets always had an answer for the Washington Capitals.

The Caps built a two-goal lead in each game and Columbus was able to battle back and tie it each time.

In Game 4 on Thursday, however. the Blue Jackets had no answer in a 4-1 loss to Washington and that includes head coach John Tortorella.

"We weren't good," Tortorella said to the media after the game. "There's no sense asking me things about the game. I'm telling you, we laid an egg. I'm not going to break it down for you. We sucked. We sucked."

Tortorella is known for having some fiery interactions with the media. By his standard, Thursday's postgame presser was fairly tame.

The Capitals may have won Game 3, but Columbus certainly looked like the better team for most of the night. That was not the case in Game 4 as Washington dominated from start to finish. That led to the contentious postgame presser.

"We laid an egg," Tortorella said. "That's all I have to say, guys. I'm sorry, I'm not going to break it down for you. Nothing went well for us. It's on us, we have to figure it out and we will."

Reporters continued to press the head coach until he finally walked out.

Before you laugh too hard at this, it is important to consider that this may be a calculated move by Tortorella.

Sure, there have been times in which he has lost his temper in the past, but these outbursts may be more premeditated than we think.

Consider this. After their worst game of the series, a game in which the Blue Jackets only scored once and saw a 2-0 series lead evaporate in two games at home, we're talking about the head coach. We're not talking about the loss or the performance of the players. Instead, we are talking about Tortorella walking out on reporters.

Even if Tortorella was not willing to give any answers on Thursday, he will need to find some soon. The series now shifts back to Washington for Game 5 on Saturday with all the momentum on the Caps' side.

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