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Orpik, Orlov both in for the season opener


Orpik, Orlov both in for the season opener

The biggest question heading into Saturday's opener was the status of defensemen Brooks Orpik and Dmitry Orlov. Though the morning skate offered few indications of who would play as the defensive pairing shuffled on seemingly every drill, Barry Trotz confirmed that both Orpik and Orlov would suit up against the New Jersey Devils on Saturday night.

Orpik underwent wrist surgery in the offseason and was still wearing the wrist brace Saturday morning that he has worn throughout training camp. Orlov was the long projected partner of Nate Schmidt on the third defensive pair, but Trotz told reporters on Thursday that he was still deciding whether to plug Orlov or Taylor Chorney in the sixth spot. 

Though Trotz said there is some concern over the "junky habits" Orlov had developed after sitting out the entire 2014-15 season, he felt Orlov would be able to contribute more on Saturday.

"I think he's come a long way," Trotz said. "I feel that he can contribute in a couple areas. Special team areas are where his strengths lie."

RELATED: Trotz: 'I changed a lot of things, told them to trust me'

Saturday will also mark the Capitals debut for several other players including T.J. Oshie, Justin Williams and the surprising Sean Collins who will play along side Brooks Laich and Michael Latta on the fourth line.

"It's exciting," Collins said. "I thought I had a pretty good camp and I'm really looking to build off that. It's definitely been a long preseason so it will be nice to play some games that actually mean something."

"This is for real," Williams said. "These count. You want to show management, you want to show your teammates, you want to show yourself, you want to show the fans what you're all about."

Lines at morning skate:

Alex Ovcechkin – Evgeny Kuznetsov – T.J. Oshie

Marcus Johansson – Andre Burakovsky – Justin Williams

Jason Chimera – Jay Beagle – Tom Wilson

Brooks Laich – Michael Latta – Sean Collins

Defense Pairings (projected because of the shuffling during morning skate)

Brooks Orpik – John Carlson

Karl Alzner – Matt Niskanen

Nate Schmidt – Dmitry Orlov

In net: Braden Holtby

MORE CAPITALS: Orpik, Niskanen expect a new culture in Jersey

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Capitals place Taylor Chorney on waivers, which could signal something, or nothing

Capitals place Taylor Chorney on waivers, which could signal something, or nothing

When the Capitals acquired defenseman Michal Kempny on Monday, that put the team at the maximum of 23 players on the roster including eight defenseman.

Another move seemed likely and the Caps made it on Tuesday by placing veteran blueliner Taylor Chorney on waivers.

Teams now will have 24 hours to potentially claim Chorney. Should he clear at 12 p.m. on Wednesday, it is expected that he will be sent to the Hershey Bears of the AHL. Whether he is claimed or sent to Hershey, his entire $800,000 cap hit will no longer count against the Capitals' salary.

One important thing to note, however, is that placing Chorney on waivers was not required in order for Washington to remain under the salary cap.

Having eight defensemen would mean scratching two every game — assuming the team does not dress seven and after that failed experiment in last year's playoffs, why would they — which means it would be a struggle to make sure everyone gets consistent playing time in the final weeks of the season.

Perhaps placing Chorney on waivers is the team trying to get him more playing time to keep him sharp in case the team suffers injuries on the blue line and he is called upon in the playoffs.

Or perhaps it could mean something else.


Chorney played on Feb. 15, but that was during the mentor's trip. Barry Trotz's policy for those trips is to get everyone in at least one of those two games. Before that, Chorney had not played since Jan. 2. It certainly seems like the team was comfortable with him being the designated No. 7 and was not all that concerned about getting him regular playing time before now.

When asked if the Kempny trade would mean any roster moves, Trotz said Monday that he was not sure and hinted that perhaps more moves could be coming from general manager Brian MacLellan. Moving Chorney's salary off the books does not clear much cap room, but it does clear some.

Perhaps MacLellan has another move up his sleeve before Monday's trade deadline.

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Michal Kempny excited to move from last place Chicago to first place Caps

Michal Kempny excited to move from last place Chicago to first place Caps

On Sunday, Michal Kempny was a defenseman struggling for a spot in the lineup for a team poised to miss the playoffs for the first time since 2008. On Monday, he became potentially an important piece on the roster of the first place Capitals.

The last few days have been quite the whirlwind for Kempny who tallied an assist for Chicago on Saturday in a 7-1 blowout against what is now his current team. While the Blackhawks may have gotten the better of Washington that night, Kempny is excited about the postseason opportunity that now lies in front of him.

"Nobody knows what's happening in Chicago, but I'm really happy and I'm really glad that I can be here," Kempny told reporters on Tuesday after his first skate with the team. "There is option of play a playoff and I'm very happy for it."


The 27-year-old Czech defenseman played only 31 games for the Blackhawks this season, but considering Washington's need to shore up its defense before the trade deadline and the team's willingness to give up a third-round pick to acquire him, it is likely he will have a much more significant role with the Caps.

"I thought that I [was] going to get more space on the ice and more ice time, but I didn't play more than half games," Kempny said of his decision to originally sign with Chicago. "But now I'm here and I'm really glad that I'm here. Washington is amazing city and great organization and I hope I will get a chance to access myself on the ice more than in Chicago."

Kempny will not play in Tuesday's game against the Tampa Bay Lightning, but did say he expects to play Thursday when the team visits the Florida Panthers.

When he does get into the lineup, it is unclear just how big a role he will play initially or how the team foresees utilizing him going forward. He is a left-shot defenseman and did tell reporters he prefers to play on that side. It seems unlikely the team would acquire him just to put him on his offside.

As of now, however, everything regarding his role in Washington is up in the air.

"I need everything settle down a little bit," he said. "New teammates, new people around here."