Though he may be a defenseman, the strongest part of Dmitry Orlov's game has always been his offense. When Peter Laviolette took over in Washington, his system that called for the defensemen to be aggressive in the offense seemed like a perfect fit. Through his first 18 games of the season, however, Orlov had only one goal and zero assists. Suddenly, however, Orlov looks like a completely different player and has a goal in each of his last two games to show for it.
What changed? Is this a result of him finally grasping a new coach and system? Did it take him longer to recover from missing a week of practice while on the NHL's COVID-19 protocol list?
No. The real reason for Orlov's sudden success is his family.
“I think maybe my family came from Russia and I got a little more excited," Orlov said. "It was tough time to be by yourself but now they are here and I got a little joy in my life."
Travel during a pandemic is obviously difficult. Add in a baby and a cat and now you can start to see why it took until March for Orlov to get his family to the United States.
The improvement has certainly been noticeable. Orlov looks like a far more confident player with his stickwork and his aggressiveness in jumping in with the offense. His two goals were impressive plays and not just lucky deflections off of hopeful shots from the blue line.
On Sunday, Orlov cut to the backdoor of the net and one-tapped a saucer pass right through the 5-hole of Philadelphia goalie Carter Hart. On Tuesday, he took a drop pass, used Dmitry Kulikov as a screen, then fired a shot from the top of the circle and picked the top corner of the net.
Those are the type of plays we just did not see from Orlov until he was back with his family.
But, there's just one problem.
Said Orlov, "It is good they came but it kind of sucks we are leaving again on the road for one week.”