Dmitry Orlov

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‘One thing was in my mind, I can’t miss it.’ Remembering the strangest goal of Dmitry Orlov’s career

‘One thing was in my mind, I can’t miss it.’ Remembering the strangest goal of Dmitry Orlov’s career

ARLINGTON – Dmitry Orlov went over a year between NHL goals from March 2014 to November 2015. A wrist injury kept him out the entire 2014-15 season and it took him a while to get his legs back under him in 2015. Then, on Nov. 21, 2015, Orlov finally managed to get one into the back of the net with the strangest goal of his career.

The goal came in a 7-3 win against the Colorado Avalanche. Braden Holtby said Orlov was dubbed “Houdini” afterward in the locker room.

With the Caps hosting the Avalanche on Thursday (7 p.m., NBC Sports Washington), it gave Orlov a chance to reflect on one of the more bizarre plays you will ever see.

“It was funny goal and it was good goal for me,” Orlov said.

In the third period of the game with Washington already ahead 5-2, Jason Chimera had the puck along the boards and fed a streaking Orlov in the neutral zone. Both Nick Holden and Carl Soderberg had the middle covered for Colorado so Orlov faked a shot, slid the puck through his legs to get around them and got a shot off on Calvin Pickard.

That’s when things got weird.

“I get in the zone and I make a move and I shot it and kind of everybody lost it but me,” Orlov said.

Pickard made the initial save and reacted as if he was holding the puck against his chest. Everyone thought he had it…except Orlov.

“I find puck right away because it hit me right in the chest,” he said.

Orlov corralled the puck, looked up and saw no one reacting to him at all. He quickly realized no one knew he had it, wheeled around to the front of the net and fired it past Tyson Barrie who realized what was happening just before Orlov shot.

“I expect like first player who comes to me, maybe he's going to try to block it with one knee or put the full body to get the block,” Orlov said. “But it was defenseman I think he play like a goalie you know, try to block it and it's good.”

Luckily for Orlov, while none of the players knew where the puck was, the referee did. Had the referee lost sight of it, he could have blown the play dead. But when the puck hit Orlov in the chest, he was wheeling around the net and almost ran into the referee along with the puck. Obviously then the referee knew Orlov had it and not Pickard.

Still, Orlov had so much time and so much space, he actually stole a quick glance back at the referee to make sure the puck was still in play before shooting.

“I kind of look at the ref a second, if he going to blow or not,” Orlov said. “He kind of like [shrugged] no, take it. It was funny.”

So what goes through a player’s mind when he sees an empty net to shoot on and no one knows he has the puck?

“One thing it was in my mind, I can't miss it,” he said.

“I know if I going to miss it I'm going to be like probably top 10 worst plays of the season,” Orlov added. “So put my whole mind and focus to the goal.”

Game notes:

Pheonix rising

Braden Holtby has been great since returning from the All-Star break, but Pheonix Copley will get his first start since Jan. 15 and his first since inking a three-year contract extension.

Like everyone, Copley had a rough January. He is 10-5-3 this season, but his last win came back on Jan. 8.

Former Cap to start for Colorado, but not the one you think

Washington traded Philipp Grubauer to the Avalanche in the summer. The thought was that Grubauer would take over as Colorado’s starter, but so far this season he has started in 20 games and has struggled (9-7-3, .890 save percentage, 3.47 GAA) while veteran Semyon Varlamov (13-13-5, .905 save percentage, 2.89 GAA) has started in 32. On Thursday, Colorado will look to Varlamov again over the struggling Grubauer.

Burakovsky back on the third line

Based on the morning skate, Andre Burakovsky has been bumped back up to the third line alongside Lars Eller and Brett Connolly. Chandler Stephenson will take his spot on the fourth line and play with Travis Boyd and Devante Smith-Pelly. Dmitrij Jaskin and Nic Dowd are the scratches.

There is also a change to the defense as Madison Bowey will play with Brooks Orpik in place of Jonas Siegenthaler who had a rough night against Vancouver on Tuesday.

Top-heavy

Colorado features arguably the best line in hockey with Gabriel Landeskog (29 goals, 25 assists), Nathan MacKinnon (27 goals, 45 assists) and Mikko Rantanen (23 goals, 51 assists). Stopping them will be tough to do, but there is some good news for Washington. First, this game is at home so the Caps will get the second line change allowing them to get the matchup they want against that line. Second, while Colorado boasts an incredible top line, depth scoring is a major weakness for this team.

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Dmitry Orlov dazzles his hometown of Novokuznetsk with the Stanley Cup

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USA Today Sports

Dmitry Orlov dazzles his hometown of Novokuznetsk with the Stanley Cup

Friday featured Dmitry Orlov and his jam-packed schedule with the coveted Stanley Cup.

The 27-year-old native of Russia decided to take the Cup to Novokuznetsk (located in the southwest region of Siberia) for a meet and greet with fans by the Ferris wheel at Gagarin City Park.

It should be mentioned that Orlov's day with the trophy was nearly derailed after a travel glitch that sent the Cup to Novosibirsk instead of his hometown. 

Thanks to the ultimate assist from a helicopter, the Cup arrived in style and set up one memorable entrance for the defenseman. 

Orlov released this hype video which highlights his entire day on Instagram: 

View this post on Instagram

Дорогие друзья! Огромное спасибо, что разделили с нами наш праздник! Для нас это значимое и большое событие! Ещё раз приносим искренние извинения за задержку с кубком! И спасибо за понимание, мы старались сделать все максимально быстро! Спасибо за тёплый приём! Нашим родным, друзьям, тренерам, отдельная благодарность! Вы сделали наш праздник, наш день! Мы никогда не забудем этот праздник! P.S. Лена @govor_elena , тебе и твоим родным, отдельная благодарность, если бы не ваша помощь, то не известно когда бы кубок был в Новокузнецке!

A post shared by Dmitry Orlov (@orlov_09) on

Talk about a banner weekend for the Washington Capitals. The Ovechkins welcomed their new son, Sergei Aleksandrovich, into the world and Orlov pulled off yet another spectacular day with the Cup.

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Key Caps questions: Can Dmitry Orlov eclipse 40 points?

Key Caps questions: Can Dmitry Orlov eclipse 40 points?

The dog days of summer are officially here, but it's never too hot to talk some hockey.

Capitals Insider Tarik El-Bashir and Capitals correspondent JJ Regan are here to help you through the offseason doldrums. They will discuss key questions facing the Caps for the upcoming season as Washington prepares to defend its title for the first time in franchise history.

Today's question: Can Dmitry Orlov eclipse 40 points?

Tarik: Orlov’s goal every year should be producing 40 or more points.

Two seasons ago, the Russian defenseman established a career-high for assists with 27 and ended up with 33 points. Last season, Orlov scored a career-best 10 goals and finished with 31 points.

Orlov’s goal output, in fact, made him just the fifth Caps defenseman since 2000 to hit double digits, joining Mike Green, Sergei Gonchar, John Carlson and Dennis Wideman.

What does that tell us? It tells us that 12 goals and 28 assists in 2018-19 shouldn’t be too much of a stretch for Orly.

The area where I could see Orlov making the biggest jump next season is in the goal department.

He possesses a blisteringly hard shot. And, last winter, two things became apparent to me: No. 1, Orlov had started shooting to score rather than just put the puck on net and No. 2, he was beginning to do a much better job of walking the blue line, finding open lanes and delivering that big shot on net with more accuracy. Consider: he mustered 125 shots on goal each of the last two seasons but last season saw his goal total jump from six to double digits for the first time.

At 27-years old, Orlov still has a lot of runway in front of him. I think he’s going to continue to improve at both ends of the rink, particularly in the D-zone, where NHL defensemen often hit their prime around his age.

I’m a little less bullish on Orlov’s offensive upside for one reason: I think he’d need to skate on the first unit power play to really increase his goal and assist totals. And the point job, of course, is locked down by Carlson, and rightfully so.

The bottom line: I could see Orlov, who hasn’t missed a game in three-plus seasons, hitting 40 points. But I’m having a tough time seeing him amass much more without a bigger role on the PP. Last season, for example, Carlson racked up 32 points with the man advantage, while Orlov had four.

JJ:  Getting more time on the power play would certainly help Orlov, but I believe the issue that holds him back the most is his offensive instincts.

Last season, Orlov produced 10 goals and 31 points. His partner, Matt Niskanen, produced seven goals and 29 points. I think it's fair to label Niskanen as a two-way defenseman, but when you compare the skillsets of both players, there is no reason why Orlov and Niskanen's offensive point totals should be that close. Orlov's offensive ceiling is much, much higher.

So why did they produce at essentially the same rate?

Orlov has a great, great shot and is an incredibly skilled stick-handler, but he lacks the same offensive instincts of the opportunistic Niskanen who always seems to know the best time to creep up into the offensive zone. You just don't see Orlov score many goals like this.

Orlov does score some pretty amazing, highlight reel goals, but if he is not scoring off a great individual play or with his blistering shot, he's not scoring. He is not as effective at reading play in the offensive zone.

Though he does not play on the first unit of the power play, Orlov still got over 95 minutes of power play time last season and he registered a measly four assists. Even if you're not playing with the top unit, you are still getting time on a man-advantage. There's still more room to work with and a player with Orlov's skill should be able to muster more than four points.. But, for a player playing the blue line on the power play, Orlov is expected to be one of the quarterbacks of that unit and he just does not see the game the same way Niskanen or John Carlson do.

Another issue facing Orlov is his role. He and Niskanen used to be the Caps' top defensive pairing in almost every situation. The addition of Michal Kempny gives Washington a bonafide top-four. Orlov and Niskanen are the go-to in shutdown situations, but if you need offense, your first choice is going to be putting Carlson's pairing on the ice, not Orlov.

At 27, Orlov is really entering the prime of his career. If he hopes to take the next step offensively, it's now or never. He has tallied 29, 33 and 31 points in the past three season, so he is hovering around the same level of production. His skill set indicates he should be producing more. It's certainly possible he takes the next step, but I see 35 as much more realistic than 40.

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