UNIONDALE, N.Y. – Pittsburgh Penguins coach Dan Bylsma won’t discuss injuries, so he wouldn’t say whether shutdown defenseman Brooks Orpik will be ready to go in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals against the New York Islanders.
Orpik and another prominent injured Penguin, forward James Neal, were on the ice in full gear for Pittsburgh’s optional afternoon skate at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum on Monday, but Bylsma said after practice that the question of injuries was “not a discussion point.”
However, he left no doubt that the Penguins miss Orpik, who has yet to play in this series due to a lower-body injury suffered two weeks ago.
“Brooks is a guy who we put in a matchup situation a lot of the time, so you’re missing that aspect of it,” Bylsma said. “His game is a physical game. A portion of that is playing against those top guys, playing physical against them. We’ve seen that in different matchups [against] different teams, that physicality be brings in addition to the ability to defend and limit time and space.”
Orpik’s regular partner, Paul Martin, has struggled somewhat without him and is eager for him to return.
“I played with Brooks most of the year,” Martin said. “To have him back in there, a veteran leader on defense, a physical guy with a calming presence – I think it would be huge to get him back in there.”
Orpik isn’t a gazelle on the ice, but Bylsma feels the big defenseman is a better skater than he’s given credit for.
“His skating is an underrated part of his game – his ability to skate and play defense with his feet,” Bylsma said. “His puck-moving ability is underrated, too. He’s not a playmaker, but he does do a good job of executing and making plays with the puck to alleviate pressure.”