The biggest question heading into Saturday's opener was the status of defensemen Brooks Orpik and Dmitry Orlov. Though the morning skate offered few indications of who would play as the defensive pairing shuffled on seemingly every drill, Barry Trotz confirmed that both Orpik and Orlov would suit up against the New Jersey Devils on Saturday night.
Orpik underwent wrist surgery in the offseason and was still wearing the wrist brace Saturday morning that he has worn throughout training camp. Orlov was the long projected partner of Nate Schmidt on the third defensive pair, but Trotz told reporters on Thursday that he was still deciding whether to plug Orlov or Taylor Chorney in the sixth spot.
Though Trotz said there is some concern over the "junky habits" Orlov had developed after sitting out the entire 2014-15 season, he felt Orlov would be able to contribute more on Saturday.
"I think he's come a long way," Trotz said. "I feel that he can contribute in a couple areas. Special team areas are where his strengths lie."
Saturday will also mark the Capitals debut for several other players including T.J. Oshie, Justin Williams and the surprising Sean Collins who will play along side Brooks Laich and Michael Latta on the fourth line.
"It's exciting," Collins said. "I thought I had a pretty good camp and I'm really looking to build off that. It's definitely been a long preseason so it will be nice to play some games that actually mean something."
"This is for real," Williams said. "These count. You want to show management, you want to show your teammates, you want to show yourself, you want to show the fans what you're all about."
Lines at morning skate:
Alex Ovcechkin – Evgeny Kuznetsov – T.J. Oshie
Marcus Johansson – Andre Burakovsky – Justin Williams
Jason Chimera – Jay Beagle – Tom Wilson
Brooks Laich – Michael Latta – Sean Collins
Defense Pairings (projected because of the shuffling during morning skate)
Brooks Orpik – John Carlson
Karl Alzner – Matt Niskanen
Nate Schmidt – Dmitry Orlov
In net: Braden Holtby
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