Brooks Orpik went 824 days between goals before scoring the winner in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final.
In that span Cheap DJ Moore Jersey , the bruising defenseman blocked 446 shots and dished out even more hits. That won’t make him look more valuable on the stat sheet but certainly builds up respect among Washington Capitals teammates.
”He plays extremely hard,” forward Tom Wilson said. ”They don’t make `em like Brooks Orpik anymore.”
They really don’t.
As the NHL shifts toward speed and skill and away from size and physicality, defensemen like Orpik and Deryk Engelland of the Vegas Golden Knights are becoming rare species in hockey. Mobile puck-movers like Erik Karlsson are prized and behemoths like Hal Gill are gone.
And yet Orpik and Engelland have helped their teams reach the Stanley Cup Final and shown there’s still value in having a big defensive defenseman along for the ride – especially this time of year.
”In the playoffs, teams get to the net a lot harder,” Capitals coach Barry Trotz said. ”Everybody’s jamming things at the net and everybody’s getting numbers to the net and trying to create chaos around them. Sometimes those stay-at-home guys are very valuable. They can box you out, they can protect your goaltender in terms of not have to have second and third shots, those type of things. So they’re quite valuable in series where there’s a lot of net pressure and a lot of low play.”
Analytics don’t tell that story. Defensemen like Orpik routinely start in the defensive zone and are placed in positions to be on the ice for more shots against than shots for, so the numbers aren’t pretty.
Orpik has the eighth-worst Corsi percentage – a measure of shot attempts that simulates puck possession stats – among defensemen to play in at least 10 playoff games. Yet he has been incredibly effective at age 37 by clearing space in front of the net, delivering hits and clearing the puck out of the defensive zone.
”I know Brooksie from Pittsburgh and he stays in tremendous shape,” Engelland said. ”You try not to have guys standing around in front of the net too much and give your goalie some room. He’s a physical presence back there and maybe gives guys a second less to think with the puck, I guess you could say Jimmy Garoppolo Youth Jersey , and maybe rush a play or something if they don’t want to get hit. It’s always good to have that on the back end.”
Orpik scored the Game 2 winner – his first goal of any kind since Feb. 26, 2016 and first in the playoffs with the Capitals – and didn’t even remember celebrating. He’s not known for scoring, which made Washington’s T.J. Oshie all the more excited for Orpik putting the puck in the net.
”I haven’t yelled that loud for someone to score a goal since (Alex Ovechkin) scored one of his milestones,” Oshie said. ”To see him get rewarded with a goal at a big time, it makes me feel good.”
Washington goaltender Braden Holtby said defensemen like Orpik are usually his favorite players because of what they do in front of the net. Gifted two-way defensemen like the Capitals’ John Carlson and Golden Knights’ Nate Schmidt find a way to do a little bit of everything, but they don’t have the size and strength of the 6-foot-3, 217-pound Orpik, who knows what his job is.
”I don’t think necessarily you want to change a lot,” Orpik said. ”I think if you try to get six defensemen that all play the exact same way, in my opinion you’re not going to be a very balanced team or you’re not going to go very far. You try to do what you’ve always done, not just with the way the game has changed. I think as you get older too if you don’t change certain things like the way you train or the way you play Minkah Fitzpatrick Jersey , you’re going to get pushed out, so you have to be able to adapt.”
Maybe a decade from now there will be less of an emphasis on hulking defensemen hired to hit more than score. But Orpik and Engelland still represent the kind of throwback players teammates want to have around.
”They compete, they make it hard on guys in front of the net,” Holtby said. ”They’re always thinking defensively with how they can help the team that way.”
Off the ice, there’s more players like Orpik and Engelland can do. Schmidt, who broke into the NHL as Orpik’s teammate in Washington, said Engelland has helped young Shea Theodore develop.
”They help guys on the mental aspect of things more than anything,” Schmidt said. ”I think that’s where they really come into play. That really translates to guys being able to flourish on the ice.”
Orpik has had the same impact on defensive partner Christian Djoos, who has been stable during this playoff run. Then there’s the importance Orpik has as an alternate captain and leader in the Capitals’ locker room in his fourth season with the team.
”The amount of leadership, the amount of everything that Brooks Orpik brings to this team, you can’t describe it Lamar Jackson Ravens Jersey ,” Wilson said. ”We’re pretty privileged to have him around. He’s a rock back there.”
More Stanley Cup coverage: The Latest on Wednesday’s final slate of NBA regular-season games (all times local):
The NBA has released the first-round playoff schedule, and the reigning NBA champs will host the postseason opener.
Game 1 between Golden State and San Antonio opens the slate on Saturday at 3 p.m. Eastern – a somewhat unusual noon local time tip-off for the Warriors.
The Warriors-Spurs game will followed Saturday by three other openers – Washington-Toronto, Miami-Philadelphia and New Orleans-Portland.
On Sunday, the games are Milwaukee-Boston, Indiana-Cleveland, Utah-Oklahoma City and Minnesota-Houston.
Game 2s will be held Monday through Wednesday.
Game 3s start Thursday, and all Game 7s – if necessary – would be on April 28 and 29.
For those planning way ahead, the NBA Finals are set to begin on May 31.
The NBA playoff bracket is complete.
Portland beat Utah to grab the No. 3 seed in the Western Conference, and that allowed the rest of the bracket to be filled in – finally. The Trail Blazers will play No. 6 New Orleans in the first round, and No. 4 Oklahoma City will have home-court advantage against the fifth-seeded Jazz.
The Jazz-Blazers game was the 1,230th and final regular-season matchup of the season. Every other game on Wednesday’s schedule was over before the final buzzer in Portland Billy Price Bengals Jersey , meaning it took the entire schedule to determine the last two matchups in the West.
The first two of the four Western Conference first-round matchups have been set.
No. 1 Houston will play No. 8 Minnesota, and No. 2 Golden State (probably with no Stephen Curry) will play No. 7 San Antonio (probably with no Kawhi Leonard).
The Rockets swept four games from the Timberwolves, and the Warriors went 3-1 against the Spurs in the regular season.
The rest of the West bracket will be set based on the outcome of the Utah-Portland game. New Orleans will start on the road, regardless of the winner, and Oklahoma City – thanks to its wild 137-123 win over Memphis – could still get a top-four seed.
Minnesota is in the playoffs.
Jeff Teague’s jumper with just over a minute left in overtime put the Timberwolves ahead to stay, and Minnesota topped Denver 112-106 on Wednesday night to grab the final spot in the NBA playoffs.
The last West spot was the only one up for grabs on the season’s final night. It was the NBA’s first winner-gets-in, loser-goes-home game since 1997.
Denver would have gone to the postseason with a win at Minnesota.
Minnesota is in the playoffs for the first time since 2004 – ending what was the longest active drought in the NBA
The East is set.
It took 82 games, the entire regular season and even an overtime in Miami to decide things, but the bracket for the Eastern Conference playoffs is filled.
No. 1 Toronto will play No. 8 Washington, No. 2 Boston will meet No. 7 Milwaukee, No. 3 Philadelphia draws No. 6 Miami and No. 4 Cleveland gets No. 5 Indiana.
All the Game 1s will be Saturday or Sunday Cheap Marcedes Lewis Jersey , at the lower seed.
Indiana went 3-1 against the Cavaliers in the regular season. All the other first-round matchups are ones where the playoff foes split four meetings this season.
For the first time since 2001, Philadelphia is a top-three seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs.
For the first time since 2008, LeBron James is not.
The 76ers routed Milwaukee 130-95 on Wednesday night to wrap up the No. 3 seed on the East bracket, and that meant No. 4 Cleveland will face No. 5 Indiana when the playoffs open this weekend.
Philadelphia’s 16-game winning streak is the longest to end a regular season in NBA history.
Philadelphia rolled from the start, taking a 46-18 lead after the first quarter. The 28-point margin tied for the sixth-largest in any quarter of 76ers history.
The only way Cleveland would have finished No. 3 was if it won and Philadelphia lost. But with the 76ers taking command so quickly and essentially locking Cleveland into No. 4 long before the final buzzers, James got most of Wednesday night off. He finished with 10 points in just over 10 minutes.
Russell Westbrook will average a triple-double for the second straight season.
The Oklahoma City guard came into Wednesday needing 16 rebounds against Memphis to average 10.0 boards this season – and got there in the third quarter of the Thunder’s game against the Grizzlies.
Westbrook has no issue outdueling teammates for rebounds, and grabbed 16 of the Thunder’s first 27 rebounds on Wednesday.
It’s only the third time in NBA history that someone has averaged a triple-double. Westbrook did it last year, and Oscar Robertson did it in 1961-62.
Houston Rockets forward Luc Mbah a Moute will likely miss at least the first round of the playoffs after dislocating his right shoulder in a meaningless game for the Western Conference leaders.
Coach Mike D’Antoni said Wednesday that Mbah a Moute will likely miss two to three weeks with the injury sustained against the Los Angeles Lakers on Tuesday night.
Mbah a Moute missed 15 games in December and January after dislocating his right shoulder during a fall, and it happened again on a dunk in traffic at Staples Center.
Mbah a Moute is a key rotation player for the Rockets, who have the best record in the NBA. He averages 7.5 points and 3.0 rebounds per game off the bench.
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