The Washington Capitals’ defensive core has grown immensely since Dmitry Orlov was drafted 55th overall in the 2009 NHL Draft. He has established his role on the team as a top 4 defenseman with a well played two-way style and glimpses of offensive talents. The Caps would not have won the Stanley Cup last year without his contributions at both ends of the ice.
Paired with defensive partner Matt Niskanen, Orlov has the support to use his offensive talents in all zones on the ice with Niskanen’s defensive mindset. Last year, Orlov produced 31 points (10g, 21a) in all 82 regular season games. This year, he is at 27 points (3g, 24a) with only a handful of games left. I have noticed one big thing that could possibly be preventing him from matching last year’s numbers, and that’s offensive zone entry.
Orlov is a confident, offensive defenseman. When he has the puck on the entry, he has two options; throw the puck down low/ring it around for the far side winger or carry it in and look for the pass/shot. A lot of his turnovers this season have been in the offense zone, mainly due to bad decision making. When given a prime shooting lane, he decides to carry the puck and make a move or attempt to make an unnecessary pass to move the play/goalie. It’s been a very noticeable aspect in his past few games and would most likely have more points on the season if he made the simple decision.
— Marcus Boutilier (@SportMajor) February 24, 2019
3-on-3 OT against the New York Rangers. Orlov has the puck in the offensive zone, makes a move to the outside and gets well defended. He loses control of the puck and drops it to Ovechkin. If Ovechkin was not there, Orlov would’ve had his pocket picked. Good move nonetheless by Dmitry. Video credit: Marcus Boutilier/@SportMajor via Twitter.
This is purely an opinionated piece. As a college hockey defenseman in my younger days, I’ve had to tweak my own game here and there to make things work for me. That could be the case here for Dmitry, but it’s a little late in the season to be experimenting with his game. He has the capability to put up big numbers and I feel making the simple plays would benefit him and his team more. I know Orlov has the ability to put up more points than he has so far this season, I would just like to see him play a bit more conservative when make offensive zone entries. We believe in you, Dmitry, defend your Stanley Cup well!
I am open to discussion on this topic, hit me up on my personal Twitter handle @Jurky88.