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At the Rink: Avalanche at Capitals

by Katie Brown

WASHINGTON -- Washington Capitals defenseman Brooks Orpik will not play against the Colorado Avalanche at Verizon Center on Saturday (7 p.m. ET; CSN-DC, ALT).

Orpik sustained a lower-body injury Nov. 12 against the Philadelphia Flyers and has missed five consecutive games, but coach Barry Trotz cautions that Orpik’s ailment is not serious.

“Once he gets 100 percent, then we’ll give him a couple practices and then we can expect him to be in the lineup after that point,” Trotz said. “It’s sort of how we’re looking at it. It’s a long haul, and he’s an important piece, so we’re just going to get him 100 percent. As I’ve said, it’s not anything that’s a serious injury. It just takes some time for what he has.”

Colorado’s top line of Matt Duchene, Nathan MacKinnon and Gabriel Landeskog has been a bright spot on a roster that’s been hit hard by injuries. Duchene has 11 points in his past five games, including two against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Thursday.

“I think [Duchene] has been playing great, he’s been very hot lately,” MacKinnon said. “It just seems to work and we seem to generate a lot of offense. We could have had a few against Pittsburgh and tonight hopefully we can. We’re a pretty deep roster. We’ve had some injuries and stuff like that. Overall, we’ve played better hockey lately. This road trip’s been solid, could be better.”

The Avalanche will play the sixth game of their seven-game, 15-day road trip on Saturday against the Capitals.

“This is a very good team,” coach Patrick Roy said. “They’ve got a lot of depth and have been solid on defense. Their top line with [Nicklas] Backstrom and [Alex] Ovechkin and [T.J.] Oshie seems to connect really well. This is a very mature team.”

Forward Stanislav Galiev will replace Andre Burakovsky in the lineup for the Capitals. Burakovsky has one point in his past 11 games. Galiev returned from a conditioning assignment with Hershey of the American Hockey League on Nov. 16 and has played two games this season.

“I think [Galiev] deserves a chance, from a standpoint of every day coming and practicing hard and working,” Trotz said. “He went down to Hershey and played pretty well, and I think I wanted to get him in. I think I expect a little bit more from Burt, in his details and his game. We haven’t gotten much production.”

Here are the projected lineups:


Gabriel Landeskog - Nathan MacKinnon - Matt Duchene

Blake Comeau - Carl Soderberg - Cody McLeod

Mikhail Grigorenko - Andreas Martinsen - Jarome Iginla

Dennis Everberg - Chris Wagner - Jack Skille

Francois Beauchemin - Erik Johnson

Nick Holden - Tyson Barrie

Brandon Gormley - Nate Guenin

Reto Berra

Calvin Pickard

Injured: John Mitchell (oblique), Ben Street (chest), Alex Tanguay (knee), Brad Stuart (back), Semyon Varlamov (groin), Jesse Winchester (concussion)

Scratched: Zach Redmond


Alex Ovechkin - Nicklas Backstrom - T.J. Oshie

Marcus Johansson - Evgeny Kuznetsov - Justin Williams

Jason Chimera - Jay Beagle - Stanislav Galiev

Brooks Laich- Michael Latta - Tom Wilson

Nate Schmidt - John Carlson

Matt Niskanen - Karl Alzner

Dmitry Orlov - Taylor Chorney

Braden Holtby

Philipp Grubauer

Injured: Brooks Orpik (lower body)

Scratched: Andre Burakovsky

Status update: Roy said Varlamov is very close to making a return and could be available as soon as Monday, when the Avalanche play the Winnipeg Jets.

Who’s hot: Backstrom has three points in his past two games.

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