As a young defenseman in the NHL Dmitry Orlov often finds himself as a marked man, the player opposing teams want to force into making mistakes.
Tuesday night was one of those nights. It seemed every time Orlov turned to get a puck he was slammed into the boards. If it wasn’t Andre MacDonald spearing him from the puck in the offensive zone, it was Matt Martin or Cal Clutterbuck thrusting him into the boards at the other end of the ice.
“They have some physical guys,” Capitals coach Adam Oates said of the New York Islanders, who notched their first win over the Caps with a 1-0 decision at Verizon Center. "Some guys intimate you with their speed; other guys are more physical. Orly’s still learning his way through this league. Sometimes he’s got to be aware of it and sometimes it’s part of the game.”
At first glance, Oates said he had no issues with Martin’s boarding penalty on Orlov in the third period, but some of the Capitals said that better communication on the ice can alert the defensemen when they have time to make a play.
“They keep coming at you and we’ve got to do a better job of letting our D know if they have time or don’t have time, talking to them,” Caps center Eric Fehr said. “I don’t think our team talks enough to each other. It’s tough to see the ice when you’re out there and we’ve got to help each other out.”
Aside from the top pairing of Karl Alzner and John Carlson, the Capitals’ blue line has been a revolving door this season. On Tuesday night Orlov was paired with rookie Connor Carrick, while veteran John Erskine played alongside Tyson Strachan, who was recalled from the Hershey Bears to replace Mike Green, who is likely to remain sidelined until after the break with a concussion.
Alzner said the unfamiliarity on the blue line should promote even more communication between all six players on the ice.
“We can always talk more,” Alzner said. “I don’t think there’s a team that talks enough. It helps us so much knowing where guys are, if there’s a guy behind you. It does everything. We can talk more and get open better when other guys have pucks.”