Caps top 5 plays of the week: 12.9.13
Two seasons ago, under head coach Dale Hunter, Dmitry Orlov had the trajectory of a No. 4 defenseman.
Injuries and a coaching change altered that route last season but that’s where the 22-year-old Russian will be tonight when he lines up alongside John Carlson against the Tampa Bay Lightning [7 p.m., CSN].
“That’s Calle’s call,” head coach Adam Oates said, referring to assistant coach Calle Johansson. “He sees something in a matchup. He liked something [Orlov] was doing [Sunday night against the Rangers] and he put him with Carly and they had a good game.
“I liked all the defensemen the other night. I thought it was one of our better games start to finish. We put the puck in the right places, we complemented our partner and we didn’t give them second and third waves.”
To make room for Orlov’s promotion, rookie Nate Schmidt was dropped to a third pairing with Steve Oleksy, who had a strong return to the lineup Sunday with one goal and one assist after sitting out seven straight as a healthy scratch.
RELTED: [ Neuvirth returns to practice ]
“He’s similar to Schmitty in that they can both skate,” Carlson said of Orlov. “When you play with anyone you develop some chemistry. I felt we did a great job last game, the first time playing together and hopefully it’s more of the same.”
After a slow start to his season, Carlson has played some of his best hockey of the season, making hard, decisive passes out of the defensive zone to push the pace.
“It saves yourself energy and time in your zone when you can do that,” Carlson said.
The Caps have received five goals from their defensemen in the past three games – two by Schmidt and one each by Oleksy, Karl Alzner and Mike Green.
Jason Chimera said it has everything to do with getting pucks through from the blue line.
“They’re going D to D and creating lanes for themselves that they never did before,” Chimera said. “They work on it every day in practice, getting shots from different angles, and it’s really paid dividends.”