When Washington Capitals defenseman Brooks Orpik laces his skates, puts on the home red uniform and takes the ice tonight against the St. Louis Blues at Capital One Arena, it would mark doing so for the 1,000th time. Orpik will become the 330th all-time player, 114th defenseman and 22nd active player to play in 1,000 NHL games.
Last season Alex Ovechkin played in his 1,000th NHL game, all with the Capitals. The game occurred in Pittsburgh in a win over the Penguins. Orpik actually began his career with the Penguins when the team drafted him in the first round of the NHL Draft at 18th overall. He is the seventh player from his draft class to appear in 1,000 NHL games. In 703 career games with the Pens, Orpik registered 132 points (13 goals, 119 assists). He helped the Penguins to a Stanley Cup championship in 2009.
Orpik was acquired by the Capitals in free agency in the summer prior to the 2014-15 season. Since joining the Caps, Orpik has posted 56 points (four goals, 52 assists) in 296 games. Orpik has ranked first on the Caps in among defensemen hits, 879, since the team acquired him as well as second in blocked shots with 614.
Orpik has three points this season (two goals, one assist) and leads Caps defensemen with 2.9 hits per game and 3:19 shorthanded time on ice per game. Over the last two seasons, 45.16 percent of Orpik’s five-on-five ice time has been spent with first or second year players, the likes of a young blueline core of Christian Djoos, Madison Bowey, and Jonas Siegenthaler.
Orpik will be the 14th oldest player to play in his 1,000th game at 38 years and 110 days old. He made his NHL debut back on Dec. 10, 2002 and has since been ranked first among defensemen in hits (3,066), and second in blocked shots (1,856). He also has experienced both sides of the epic NHL rivalry between the Capitals and Penguins, having a won a Stanley Cup for both franchises. In leading the Caps to their first Stanley Cup, it was Orpik’s game-winning goal and first goal since Feb. 2016 that led the Caps to a Game 2 win, their first win of the series. They didn’t look back since.
The Capitals will honor Orpik’s big milestone prior to Friday’s home game against the New York Islanders. Orpik will receive a special gift from the organization, the NHL and his teammates. Brooks’ wife Erin will join Capitals president Dick Patrick on the ice for the pregame ceremony.