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Penguins defenseman Orpik could miss Game 5

Saturday, 04.26.2014 / 1:28 PM

By Wes Crosby - NHL.com Correspondent / Penguins-Blue Jackets series blog

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Penguins defenseman Orpik could miss Game 5

PITTSBURGH -- Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Brooks Orpik did not participate in the morning skate Saturday and could be sidelined for Game 5 against the Columbus Blue Jackets at Consol Energy Center (7p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, RDS, FS-O, ROOT).

Penguins coach Dan Bylsma did not provide an update on Orpik's condition.

Orpik, one of Pittsburgh's more physical defenseman, left Penguins practice Friday for undisclosed reasons.

"He's a big loss. Physically, he's our No. 1 leader as far as hits, the way he can change momentum with one of them," defenseman Rob Scuderi said. "He kills a lot of penalties. He plays against top lines. So if he's not able to go it's going to be a big loss for us.

"Unfortunately, it's something we've had to deal with all season. Hopefully whatever the coaches decide to do with the pairings, [we] can step up and play the right way."

Either Robert Bortuzzo or Deryk Engelland will enter Pittsburgh's lineup if Orpik cannot play. Bortuzzo, who has never played in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, or Engelland would most likely play alongside defenseman Paul Martin.

"I've been told you prepare all year for stuff like this," Bortuzzo said. "I understand it's going to be a different atmosphere. The game might be a little quicker and a little more physical, but I think it plays into my skill set if I do happen to get in there. So obviously it's pretty exciting.

"It's the first playoff game for myself and it's something I've worked for a long time now."

The Penguins rearranged their defensive pairings before Orpik exited practice. Defensemen Kris Letang and Olli Maatta were paired while Scuderi and Matt Niskanen worked together.

Orpik's pairing was left untouched Friday, but with his potential absence Pittsburgh could have three different combinations from those used in Game 4. Martin, Orpik's usual partner, leads the NHL with eight postseason points.

"I'm not entirely sure, as far as what is going on for tonight. But he [Orpik] has been the leader back here," Martin said. "It'll be tough for us if he can't go. He's physical and he can move the puck well and is a big part of the shutdown pair. We've developed some chemistry together and it makes it easy to play with [him], one of the veteran guys that knows what it takes.

"It's part of the game in the playoffs and he's a tough guy, so we'll see what happens for tonight."

Quote of the Day

He seemed to thrive on his own and didn't really need any push from me. I certainly don't want to get in the way of the coaches. You see how that goes sometimes. I never really worried about it and just enjoyed the ride.

— David Ekblad on his son's [Aaron Ekblad] journey to the NHL, signing with the Florida Panthers