It’s no secret that the Washington Capitals are struggling big-time with injuries, but over the last month, one loss has stood out more than the others as No. 2 defenseman Dmitry Orlov has missed the last 13 games of action. But what exactly is going on with him?
The 31-year-old, who is in a contract year, has played in just 13 games this season for Washington, dishing five assists. Prior to the start of the regular season and through the end of the preseason and training camp, Orlov was dealing with a lower-body injury. He did not miss any time to open the year, but on Nov. 5 against the Arizona Coyotes, he left action with what’s again being called a lower-body injury. At this time, it’s not clear what the nature of the ailment is, but he has been on the injured reserve.
“It’s been a little struggle identifying and helping him get through this injury,” general manager Brian MacLellan said. “It’s lingered on a lot longer than anyone participated.”
Since then, Orlov’s returned to practice and has been skating in a regular contact jersey. And while he didn’t join the team for the start of its season-long six-game road swing, he flew out halfway through the journey to join the club in Seattle. However, he has yet to suit up.
READ MORE ON WHN: Washington Capitals Locker Room Has Life Again After Big Win In Edmonton
Still, MacLellan said things are trending upwards for Orlov and that the Capitals hope he’ll return to game action soon.
“Seems to be headed in a positive direction, which is why he’s come out for the trip,” MacLellan added. “We’ll see how it goes over the next couple of days. Hopefully, we’ll get him in a game.”
Getting Orlov back will be huge for Washington, especially after the Capitals saw Martin Fehervary go down with an upper-body injury on Saturday that held him out of Monday’s game and will hold him out for at least the next two games after going on the IR. No. 1 goaltender Darcy Kuemper is also day-to-day.
With Orlov out, Erik Gustafsson has moved into a top-pairing role to operate with John Carlson. With both Orlov and Feheravary missing in Monday’s win over Edmonton, Trevor van Riemsdyk stepped up to play top-4 minutes, while Matt Irwin and Alex Alexeyev drew in to play on the third pairing.