Brooks Orpik

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Brooks Orpik's knee injury helped decision on retirement

Brooks Orpik's knee injury helped decision on retirement

One big reason Brooks Orpik decided to hang up his skates, as he announced on Tuesday, was the severity of a knee injury, which impaired him for most of the 2018-19 season.

"I knew a long time ago, to be honest with you," Orpik told reporters Tuesday afternoon. "From the time I had surgery on it was pretty evident that I wasn't gonna play another year after this."

After playing 10 games in October to start the season, Orpik was was placed on long-term injured reserve, then underwent arthroscopic knee surgery in November. 

He returned to the lineup Dec. 31 and played a total of 53 games during the regular season last year.

But despite the medical staff's best efforts, Orpik remained in pain for the duration of the season.

"I'd use the elevator at [Capital One Arena] to go up and down cause I couldn't go up and down stairs," Orpik said. "When I couldn't do that it was time to stop playing hockey I figured.

"I could just get it to a point where I could play for two and a half hours and then pay for it afterward and then try to do it all over again."

Orpik's dealt with a multitude of injuries during his career in Washington. During the Stanley Cup Final against the Vegas Golden Knights, Orpik lost part of his pinkie finger after a brutal slash courtesy of Erik Haula. He also dealt with an infection in his leg during the Caps 2017 playoff run, which he acquired after blocking a shot.

During his tenure with the Penguins, Orpik suffered a broken finger in 2011 and was carted off the ice in 2013 after being pulled down and punched by then Bruins enforcer Shawn Thornton.

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As Brooks Orpik was scoring his game-winner, Adam Eaton homered to help the Nationals beat the Pirates

As Brooks Orpik was scoring his game-winner, Adam Eaton homered to help the Nationals beat the Pirates

Call it coincidence if you want, but what happened Saturday afternoon was truly some D.C. sports magic.

In the overtime session of the Capitals' first round playoff game against the Carolina Hurricanes, defenseman Brooks Orpik scored a rocket of a goal to give Washington a 4-3 win and put them up two games to none in the series. 

Less than three miles away at Nationals Park and moments after Orpik's goal, Adam Eaton launched a solo home run into the right-center field seats to tie the Nationals' game against the Pirates at two in the bottom of the eighth inning.

And on the very next pitch, Howie Kendrick hit a homer of his own to give the Nats the lead. 

Sean Doolittle came in for the top of the ninth and earned the save, the Nats triumphing 3-2. 

Eaton said he heard the cheers from the Nats Park crowd as the news of Orpik's game-winner trickled  into the stadium. 

“I heard that," Eaton told reporters. "That’s pretty cool. First off, congratulations to them. They’re playing some really important games. We’re still in April … which every game’s important. But hat’s off to them."

In a matter of moments, the anxieties of an entire city turned into screams of jubilation. As our very own Todd Dybas put it, the simultaneous D.C. victories were like a "sports lightning bolt from the center of town down South Capitol Street."

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Deja vu all over again: Why Brooks Orpik's game-winner felt familiar

Deja vu all over again: Why Brooks Orpik's game-winner felt familiar

In what seemed like a game of deja vu on deja vu, the Washington Capitals’ final goal of Game 2 against the Carolina Hurricanes confirmed that we truly have seen lots of this before.
 
Brooks Orpik’s Game 2, game-winning goal in overtime confirmed that history would repeat itself. Orpik also had the game-winning goal in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final, though that time, the final score was 3-2.

Orpik has a history of game-winning goals, even before he played for the Caps. While he was a Pittsburgh Penguin, his overtime goal allowed the team to beat the New York Islanders 4-3 in overtime. This game-winning, slapshot goal was his first of the season, and man, was it important. 

Don’t sleep on Brooks “Secret Weapon” Orpik in the playoffs, folks. Saturday afternoon – and in past games and even for a past team – he was the unlikely hero. 

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