In an interview that lasted just over 3 minutes, Capitals defenseman Brooks Orpik described his lower body injury as “frustrating” or “frustrated” five times while keeping the exact nature of his injury under wraps.
Orpik practiced with the Caps on Wednesday but will not join his teammates on their trips to Montreal and Winnipeg, where they will face the Canadiens on Thursday night and the Jets on Saturday. Instead, Orpik will remain in Arlington and skate with conditioning coach Mark Nemish, missing his 10th and 11th games due to the same injury.
Asked how he felt after practicing on Wednesday, Orpik said, “I don’t know, to be honest with you. It’s a little bit better. That’s the frustrating thing, it’s slow healing. I’m just kind of waiting.”
Orpik said his only timetable is to return to the lineup when he is “close to 100 percent” and when asked if he is surprised his “lower body injury” is taking so long to heal, he became a bit cryptic.
“Yes and no,” he said. “Not when I first got it. But once the doctors figured out what it was, then I guess I wasn’t so surprised. The frustrating thing was not even knowing how I got it.”
Orpik last played on Nov. 10 in Detroit when he pulled himself from the game after just 6:49 of ice time. The Caps lost that game 1-0 on the strength of Petr Mrazek’s 38 saves, but in the nine games since then, the Caps have gone 7-1-1 in Orpik’s absence.
“He’s just a little frustrated it’s not coming around as quick,” Caps coach Barry Trotz said, “but we have a little bit of wiggle room to allow him to get back. He wants to be in; he would have liked to be in weeks ago.
“We’ll always do what’s best for the player, but knowing Brooks’ makeup he wants to be back as soon as possible. This (17-5-1 record) allows us to keep him a little more patient.”
Trotz has repeatedly said Orpik’s injury is not serious and that he would be in the lineup if this were the Stanley Cup playoffs.
Asked if he thought his injury is serious, Orpik said, “I don’t know what you mean by serious. It’s not going to kill me and it doesn’t need surgery. It’s probably not serious, but it’s frustrating. You don’t like missing any games, let alone having it go on this long.
“I keep setting myself back if I try to come back too early. That’s probably the tough thing. Feeling better and wanting to push it and you’re not allowed to. That’s probably the more frustrating thing. But I’d probably be more frustrated if I came back too early and set myself all the way back to square one.”
Practice scuffling: Fourth-line forwards Tom Wilson and Michael Latta got into a little scrap near the end of Wednesday's practice. Off the ice the two share an apartment.