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Orpik makes trip to Detroit, but will he play?


Orpik makes trip to Detroit, but will he play?

Capitals defenseman Brooks Orpik boarded a flight to Detroit with the rest of his teammates on Tuesday, but coach Barry Trotz was noncommittal when asked if his 35-year-old veteran would be in the lineup Wednesday night against the Red Wings (8 p.m., NBCSN).

“I honestly can’t answer that,” Trotz said. “He’s really close. We’re just letting the injury settle down. That will really be determined how he feels (on Wednesday) and the next day.”

Orpik has not skated since suffering a lower body injury in the Caps’ last visit to Detroit one week ago.  Without the benefit of a practice, and with the Capitals returning home to face the Dallas Stars on Thursday, the Caps could keep Orpik out of the lineup one more game.  

“Right now, to be honest with you, if someone went down in the morning skate he would play and it wouldn’t be any problem,” Trotz said.

If Orpik cannot play, Nate Schmidt, 24, is likely to remain on a top unit with John Carlson. Schmidt has averaged just over 18 minutes of ice time in Orpik’s absence and has been even on the plus-minus ledger with one shot.

“I think he’s done fairly well,” Trtoz said. “Some games better than others, which is natural for a player who moves up and has to adjust his minutes.”

Trotz noted that since the arrival of Orpik, Carlson, 25, has had the benefit of a steady veteran influence on his left side. Now, Carlson is being asked to be that same veteran influence for Schmidt.

“He’s probably in that tutoring mode,” Trotz said. “Brooks is more of a stay-at-home, defending type of physical defenseman and Schmitty is more using his legs and jumping up in the play, more similar to Carly, so they just have to read off each other a little bit better.”

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Stanley Cup Playoffs 2018 projection: Still too close to call in the Metropolitan Division


Stanley Cup Playoffs 2018 projection: Still too close to call in the Metropolitan Division

The Stanley Cup Playoffs are right around the corner and there is still a lot to be decided.

The Metropolitan Division is going to come right down to the wire as each team seemingly continues to win and put the pressure on the first place Capitals.

With just over two weeks remaining in the regular season, the playoff matchups for the first round of the NHL playoffs are still up in the air with only five points separating the top four teams in the Metro. Washington is in good position with a four-point cushion between themselves and the second place Pittsburgh Penguins. With both teams meeting on April 1, however, the Caps are still a long way off from clinching the division and earning home ice in the first round.


Metropolitan Division
1. Washington (93 points, 74 GP, 40 ROW)
W1. Philadelphia (88 points, 75 GP, 36 ROW)

2. Pittsburgh (89 points, 74 GP, 40 ROW)
3. Columbus (89 points, 75 GP, 36 ROW)

Atlantic Division
1. Tampa Bay (106 points, 74 GP, 45 ROW)
W2. New Jersey (82 points, 73 GP, 32 ROW)

2. Boston (100 points, 72 GP, 42 ROW)
3. Toronto (95 points, 74 GP, 37 ROW)

Still in the hunt:
Florida (81points, 72 GP, 34 ROW)


Washington has won only one out of four games against the Philadelphia Flyers this season. That's not an ideal first-round matchup for Washington, but there is still time for the Flyers to climb and overtake Columbus or Pittsburgh in the standings..

What seems unlikely to happen is for New Jersey or Florida to pass Philadelphia. While things remain close near the top of the standings, there seems to be a growing divide between the top-four teams in the Metropolitan Division and the two teams battling for the final remaining spot in the playoffs.

The Flyers may be in fourth place in the division, but they still boast a healthy six-point lead over the Devils who sit in the second wild card.

If we assume New Jersey and Florida will not be able to climb to any postseason position, but the second wild card, that makes the three most likely candidates to face Washington in the first round Pittsburgh, Columbus and Philadelphia.

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3 reasons the Caps beat the Red Wings

3 reasons the Caps beat the Red Wings

Not much separated the Washington Capitals and the Detroit Red Wings on Thursday. A late 2-on-0 goal for Brett Connolly proved to be the difference.

Here's why the Caps ultimately walked away with the 1-0 win.

A first period goalie interference call

Andreas Athanasiou thought he had given the Red Wings a first period lead, but Barry Trotz challenged the call for goalie interference. The review showed that Tyler Bertuzzi clipped Philipp Grubauer in the head with an elbow right before the shot went in. Given how long it took the Caps to get going in this game, it is fair to say an early deficit would have been hard to overcome.


Killing off a full two-minute 5-on-3

Two man advantages are hard to kill. Killing off a full two-minutes at 5-on-3, that's a tall task. With the game still scoreless in the second period, T.J. Oshie and Lars Eller were both assessed penalties giving Detroit two-full minutes at 5-on-3. The Red Wings managed four shots on goal, but Washington was able to successfully kill off the penalty and keep the game scoreless.

Philipp Grubauer

There were few players who had strong efforts on Tuesday, but Grubauer was phenomenal. Even when the game felt sleepy in the first two periods, Detroit still managed 28 shots on goal, all of which were turned aside by the German netminder. When Washington finally took the lead in the third, the Red Wings woke up and began pushing the offense, but Grubauer was in the zone at that point and could not be beaten. His best save came in the third period when he stared down a breakaway from Athanasiou and extended the pad to deny the shot.