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When will Orpik return to Capitals' lineup?


When will Orpik return to Capitals' lineup?

Brooks Orpik participated in his first practice with the Capitals since leaving the lineup with a lower body injury on Nov. 10, but Capitals coach Barry Trotz says the 35-year-old defenseman is “very doubtful” for Thursday night’s game against the Montreal Canadiens.

“It’s not coming around really quick but it’s not something I would say we have to worry about long-term,” Trotz said. “If he had to play today he could play. But we’re trying to get this settled down. Every time he seems to get settled down it jumps up. We don’t want that. We want it to totally settle down.”

Asked if surgery is an option for Orpik, Trotz was emphatic with his response.

“Oh, no,” he said. “Not at all. Definitely 100 percent no surgery.”

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Orpik participated in skating and shooting drills on Monday but did not take part in 2-on-2 battle drills. Since the Caps visit the Canadiens on Thursday and the Winnipeg Jets on Saturday it’s entirely possible Orpik’s return to the lineup may not be until Dec. 8 when Mike Green and the Detroit Red Wings visit Verizon Center.

“I think we’re getting close,” Trotz said. “I think he’s feeling better.”

The Capitals are 7-1-1 during Orpik’s nine-game absence. During that time, Nate Schmidt has played in Orpik’s spot alongside John Carlson on the Caps’ top defense pairing. Taylor Chorney has filled in for Schmidt on a third pairing with Dmitry Orlov.

“Everybody has stepped up and realized we’re missing a good player but at the same time everybody’s taking a “next-man-up” attitude.

Trotz said he misses having a veteran like Orpik on the ice.

“We miss him in practice because if someone makes a bad pass he’s on that guy,” Trotz said. “A young guy might say, ‘Well, I just missed a pass.’ He’ll be like, ‘It’s not OK.’ He’ll let them know in a quiet way. It’ll be a little tap on the pads. ‘You have to make that pass.’

“I’ll be on the other side losing my mind screaming and they still won’t make the pass. But if a veteran player goes, ‘You need to make that pass’ sometimes it has a bigger impact. They’re exactly what you want for your culture because they don’t accept average.”

Trotz on Holtby: Trotz said any pressures that Braden Holtby felt when he signed a five-year, $30.5 million contract have been addressed with his hard work in getting off to a 15-4-0 record and his current seven-game win streak.

“The way he finished (last season) and the way he is right now is the same guy,” Trotz said. “I don’t think he changed his routine. Nothing really affects him. I think he’s mentally tough.

“I think he understands he’s put in the hard work and hard work is what’s going to keep him as a top goaltender and maybe take him to the next level. I know how hard he works with Mitch (Korn) and how hard Mitch pushes the goalies. He likes the workload.”

MORE CAPITALS: NHL names Braden Holtby one of its stars of the week

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Capitals listed as underdogs in their first Stanley Cup since 1998

Capitals listed as underdogs in their first Stanley Cup since 1998

The odds have never gone the way of the Washington Capitals.

After years of being the common pick to finally break through and win the Stanley Cup, this was most definitely not the year.

Yet, here we are with the Capitals as one of the final two teams standing.

For their upcoming Stanley Cup Final, the Caps are the underdogs against the Las Vegas Golden Knights.  The opening line from OddsShark has the Golden Knights as -135 money line favorites to win the Stanley Cup. The Capitals were listed as +115 underdogs.

Vegas (the betting entity, not the team) has not exactly been the most reliable this year though. After all, the Golden Knights were 100/1 odds to win the whole thing. Now they are four games away.

In their past two series, Washington was not the favorites. The Capitals have not been favorites since the First Round against the Columbus Blue Jackets.

For years in the Alex Ovechkin era, they have been the favorites to not only go on to play for the Stanley Cup but winning it.

In 2018 they started the season tied for the fifth best odds to win the Cup (14/1), one of their lowest opening marks in the past decade. For the full perspective, Washington was tied with the Toronto Maple Leafs and behind the Dallas Stars at the start of the season.

Without question this underdog role has fit them quite well, they shouldn’t want anything to change heading into the biggest postseason series in 20 years for Washington D.C.


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How the Caps upset the Lightning to win the conference championship

How the Caps upset the Lightning to win the conference championship

It wasn't supposed to happen.

The Capitals celebrated too hard after beating the Pittsburgh Penguins in the Second Round. The Tampa Bay Lightning had been here before. Tampa Bay's roster was deeper. Their goalie was hotter. They had home ice advantage. They had easily won their first two series. Nicklas Backstrom was still injured. Washington wouldn't be able to stop the Lightning's power play.

Here's how the Capitals were able to shock the hockey world and upset the Lightning.

For all of those reasons, many did not even give the Caps a chance. Washington overcame every obstacle in their way and was, for the most part, the better team through seven games defeating Tampa Bay to win the Eastern Conference for just the second time in franchise history.

The Capitals showed in their second-round win over the Penguins that these weren't the "same old Caps." They continued to prove that in the conference final when they stunned the Lightning to win Game 1 and Game 2 both on the road.

Here's how the Capitals were able to shock the hockey world and upset the Lightning.

When Washington lost the next three, many thought that meant the real Lightning had awoken, but it was the Caps who rose to the occasion in Game 6 and Game 7 where they face elimination as they completely dominated Tampa Bay by a combined score of 7-0.

The Caps now advance to take on the Vegas Golden Knights in the Stanley Cup Final. The Knights have lost only three games this entire postseason and will hope to carry that momentum with them into Game 1.

If there is one thing this Washington team has proven, however, it's that you should never count them out.

Here's how the Capitals were able to shock the hockey world and upset the Lightning.