Unlike some of the coaches that came before him, Barry Trotz likes to talk things out with struggling players and on Tuesday he had a heart-to-heart conversation with defenseman Dmitry Orlov, whose turnovers have resulted in goals against in each of his last two games.
“We talk about being honest all the time,” Trotz said. “Sometimes the best way to get a guy’s attention is to have them not play because sometimes it falls on deaf ears a little bit. That works for some players. Some players you have to let them know (poor decisions) have to be gone or there will consequences down the road and they fix it on their own.”
Trotz would not say whether Orlov will remain in the lineup when the Capitals visit the Philadelphia Flyers on Wednesday night at the Wells Fargo Center (8 p.m., NBCSN) or be replaced by veteran defenseman Mike Weber or Taylor Chorney. Orlov practiced on Tuesday with normal defense partner Brooks Orpik, an indication he may remain in the lineup.
“I don’t think I’m obligated to do that, plus I don’t want to give Philly a heads up,” Trotz said.
“I think we had a good conversation today. I think he understands where I was coming from and where he fits on our hockey team and what his future is with our hockey team. All those things were talked about today.”
From a statistical standpoint, Orlov is having his best season in the NHL. The 24-year-old Russian has a career-high eight goals and 20 assists and has played in all 75 games. But it’s the defwnsive zone giveaways that have become an issue with Trotz and Orlov knows it.
“The last couple games I made mistakes that cost us goals,” Orlov said. “I know I can do a better job of that. For sure they told me I can’t do this. We talked a little bit about that. Everybody say the same thing. Especially before playoffs, I understand if I’m going to play I can’t do this. I will try to do the right things and maybe do the simple play sometimes.”
In hindsight, Orlov said he should have backhanded the puck off the glass instead of looking for a pass through the middle of the ice in a play that resulted in Cam Atkinson’s goal late in the first period of the Capitals’ 4-1 win over the Blue Jackets on Monday night.
Caps defenseman Matt Niskanen wasn’t nearly as critical of Orlov’s decision on the play, saying he hads few options as a left-handed player playing on the right side of the ice.
“Orly’s been a tremendous player for us this year and he has the guts to make some plays where some other guys wouldn’t and he’s really good at it,” Niskanen said. “I don’t think you should shy away from making a play.
“Playing on the offside sometimes you’re forced on the backhand to make a play in a tough spot and things happen. The guy knocked the puck out of the air and if I was Orly I wouldn’t even sweat that one. I understand why the coach is upset on limiting your turnovers, but sometimes you don’t have a choice but to make a play on your backhand.”
With Weber and Chorney waiting in the wings, Orlov said he’s not sure whether he’ll be in the lineup in Philadelphia but hopes he is.
“We’ll see, it’s hard to say,” Orlov said. “Of course I’m mad at myself. I made this mistake and I’m always hard on myself. We’ll see (Wednesday). If I will play I will try to do my best.”