Sidelined since taking a big hit along the boards from Ryan White in the second period of Game 3 on Monday night, Capitals defenseman Brooks Orpik was not on the ice on Friday, but he was in the workout room.
Asked if Orpik has a concussion, Capitals coach Barry Trotz responded, “I’m not going to answer that.”
Asked if he is concerned about the long-term availability of Orpik for the playoffs, Trotz sounded optimistic.
“Not really, no,” he said. “I don’t have too much concern on that. He actually exercised today, so that was good.”
Orpik appeared to hit his head on the glass on the hard check by White and looked wobbly as he was helped off the ice buy defense partner John Carlson and Caps athletic trainer Greg Smith.
The Caps went 30-6-4 in their 40 games without Orpik in the lineup due to injury during the regular season and 26-11-4 in their 41 games with him. (He sat out the final game of the season as a healthy scratch).
The Caps’ penalty kill was 86.8 percent with Orpik in the lineup and 83.3 percent without him.
Defenseman Taylor Chorney replaced Orpik in the lineup and logged 12:10 in his first playoff game for the Capitals.
“It’s nice to get back in there,” said Chorney, who only other Stanley Cup playoff experience came last year for the Penguins. “Getting a chance to play last year probably helped a little bit, just having felt that intensity before. It would have been nice to have a better result.”
While Chorney played on a third defense pairing with Dmitry Orlov, Nate Schmidt jumped into Orpik’s spot on the left side of John Carlson. Schmidt logged 18:23 of ice time, including a 20-second stint on the penalty kill. His previous high in the series was 13:31 in Game 2.
“If you ask any player the more you play the more in the game you get,” Schmidt said. “It’s easier to get your legs going. When you’re playing against top guys you’ve got to do the job.”
Capitals goaltender Braden Holtby said that while the Caps will miss Orpik’s physical play and leadership, they have played well without him this season.
“We’re confident with any of the eight guys we put in the lineup,” he said.
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