Dmitry Orlov says his highlight reel hip check on Matt Duchene was a “risky” play that required perfect timing to execute.
“You can’t see every day this hit,” Orlov said after practice on Wednesday. “Probably I got lucky on this one a little bit. I was close to him. I don’t want to hurt him or something; it was just kind of a quick decision what I made. I think it’s good he didn’t get hurt and he still in the game.”
The hit happened early in the first period of the Capitals' eventual 3-0 win over the Avalance on Tuesday. Duchene was flying down the wing with the puck when he attempted to cut to the middle (and around Orlov.) Orlov, though, was having none of it. A noted hip-checker, he lowered himself and exploded upward on impact, using his shoulder to launch Duchene up and over in spectacular fashion.
Orlov explained that in order to execute the hit properly, the defender must make the forward believe he sees an opening that doesn’t actually exist.
“You give a guy a chance [to] think he can go through you,” Orlov said. “At that time when he believe, I try to get a step and make a hit.”
The timing, however, has got to be perfect. Even a fraction of a second too late or too early can mean the difference between a hit that becomes the talk of the league…or a miscue that gets called out by a coach in the next day's film session.
At the World Cup, Orlov experienced the flipside.
“In an exhibition game for Russian team, I try to make the same play and [Czech forward Tomas] Plekanec get me,” Orlov said. “So it’s risky play. I can’t do it every time, every shift. This just happens only once maybe in whole season, and it happens last night.”
After the hit, the Verizon Center crowd erupted. Moments later, cameras caught Orlov flashing a sly grin on the bench as teammates and fans acknowledged the play.
Orlov said his biggest challenge after the hit was putting it behind him and refocusing on the task at hand. At the time, after all, the game was still scoreless.
“Everybody says, 'Nice hit,'” Orlov said. “After I hit him, on [the next] shift I just try to play game, not try to think about it. I know it was nice, but whatever. I needed to play like two more periods. So I try not to focus on it.”
“I don't know what [else] I can say,” he added with a smile. “It happens already.”