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Capitals' Orpik a game-time decision vs. Blackhawks

by Dan Rosen

WASHINGTON -- Washington Capitals defenseman Brooks Orpik will skate in warmups Thursday at Nationals Park and will be a game-time decision for the 2015 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic against the Chicago Blackhawks.

Orpik sustained a knee injury Monday in a 4-3 overtime loss to the New York Islanders.

"Brooks Orpik is taking warm-up and then he will tell me if he's playing," Capitals coach Barry Trotz said. "He's feeling much better and we will not put him at risk."

Orpik did not participate in practice Wednesday as he stayed back at Kettler Capitals Iceplex in Arlington, Va., to receive treatment on his injured knee.

Trotz said there is no structural damage to Orpik's his knee, so it's all about Orpik's pain and comfort threshold.

"Brooks is pro enough to know can I help the team or would I hurt the team," Trotz said. "If he feels he's not there and he might hurt us then he will definitely be honest and say to me, 'Hey, I just got to bypass this one.' He's that quality of a guy. If he's not playing tomorrow then he'll be playing the next game for sure."

Jack Hillen will be in the lineup and paired with Mike Green if Orpik can't play. Nate Schmidt will move up the lineup to pair with John Carlson, who normally plays with Orpik. Karl Alzner and Matt Niskanen will remain a pair.

Orpik is third on the Capitals in average ice time per game at 21:58; he has eight assists and a plus-8 rating.

"[Orpik] kills penalties, he plays against top lines, he's out there toward the of every game in every big situation, so in that sense guys are good enough to step up and do it but he's proven himself year after year that he's a pretty good guy for that role," Carlson said. "We're very deep at [defense], all seven of us can play in any role, and I think it's going to be by committee. Everyone is going to have to do things that maybe day in and day out we don't do or we're not used to, but nothing foreign."


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