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Capitals' Orpik aiming to stay out of box vs. Devils

by Adam Vingan

DEVILS (7-7-2) at CAPITALS (7-5-3)


ARLINGTON, Va. -- Washington Capitals defenseman Brooks Orpik believes it took him about 60 games last season to commit 11 minor penalties, the same total that has him among the NHL's most penalized players in 15 games this season.

Three players have committed more minor infractions than Orpik this season: Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Dion Phaneuf, Pittsburgh Penguins forward Steve Downie and Montreal Canadiens defenseman P.K. Subban.

"They've been weird penalties, to be honest," said Orpik, who took 13 minors in 72 games last season. "I don't think I've had too many like hooking or holding penalties. Those are ones that seem to really frustrate you or annoy you because it means you're not moving your feet or taking lazy penalties."

Orpik is right; he hasn't taken any hooking or holding penalties. Four of his minors have been for roughing, though three have been coincidental. He has taken four interference penalties, tied for the League lead with Penguins defenseman Simon Despres, which he said has been a point of emphasis for officials, particularly on faceoffs.

"Usually, if you have position on guys, you can kind of not really set a pick, but if you win the faceoff, give your partner some time," Orpik said. "Now, seems like if you just bump into the guy, you're getting a penalty."

Coach Barry Trotz's staff charts every penalty the Capitals take, noting the variety, time, situation and location. Excluding his matching roughing minors, seven of Orpik's eight penalties have come in the defensive zone.

Among other reasons, Washington signed Orpik to a five-year, $27.5 million contract this summer to anchor its penalty kill. So far, the Capitals have killed all eight opposing power-play opportunities with Orpik, currently averaging 2:44 of shorthanded ice time per game, in the penalty box.

"It's obviously not a good feeling, especially when they count on me to be a big part of the penalty kill," Orpik said. "Obviously, if you're in the box, you're not capable of doing that. It's definitely been a little frustrating."

New Jersey Devils goaltender Cory Schneider will make his 17th consecutive start to open the season Friday, matching the second-longest streak in team history, according to Elias Sports Bureau. Martin Brodeur started the first 17 games of the 2002-03 season and holds the record of 19 set in 2001-02.

Here are the projected lineups:


Mike CammalleriTravis ZajacJaromir Jagr

Martin HavlatPatrik EliasMichael Ryder

Dainius ZubrusStephen GiontaSteve Bernier

Tuomo RuutuJacob JosefsonJordin Tootoo

Andy GreeneDamon Severson

Eric GelinasMarek Zidlicky

Seth HelgesonAdam Larsson

Cory Schneider

Keith Kinkaid

Scratched: Damien Brunner

Injured: Adam Henrique (lower body), Ryan Clowe (concussion), Jon Merrill (arm), Bryce Salvador (lower body)


Alex OvechkinNicklas BackstromJay Beagle

Marcus JohanssonAndre BurakovskyTroy Brouwer

Jason ChimeraEric FehrJoel Ward

Liam O'BrienEvgeny KuznetsovMichael Latta

Brooks OrpikJohn Carlson

Karl AlznerMatt Niskanen

Nate SchmidtMike Green

Braden Holtby

Justin Peters

Scratched: Jack Hillen

Injured: Brooks Laich (shoulder), Tom Wilson (lower body), Dmitry Orlov (wrist), John Erskine (neck surgery)

Status report: The Devils held an optional morning skate at Verizon Center. Tootoo replaces Brunner on the fourth line. … Wilson won't play against the Devils, but could return Saturday against the St. Louis Blues, according to Trotz. "I just don't think we go back-to-back," Trotz said. "He's come along pretty good." Laich, who has missed nine of the past 10 games with a shoulder injury, was placed on injured reserve Friday and forward Chris Brown was recalled from Hershey of the American Hockey League. Laich is eligible to be activated Saturday, as the move was retroactive to Nov. 7, and he is expected to join the Capitals on their upcoming road trip.

Who's hot: Cammalleri and Jagr each have three points in their past two games. … Johansson has scored seven 5-on-5 goals this season after scoring five combined in his previous two seasons.

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