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Capitals' Orpik, Orlov in lineup against Devils

by Katie Brown

DEVILS (0-1-0) at CAPITALS (0-0-0)


ARLINGTON, Va. -- Defenseman Brooks Orpik will play in the Washington Capitals season opener against the New Jersey Devils at Verizon Center on Saturday.

Orpik had surgery July 28 to repair a wrist injury and did not participate in training camp or appear any preseason games.

As part of Washington's top defense pairing with John Carlson last season, Orpik had 19 points in 78 games and averaged 21:47 of ice time per game. That included 2:47 per game shorthanded, second to Carlson.

Orpik started practicing Oct. 2 and still wears a small brace on his left wrist. He said the braces will get smaller during his recovery until he no longer needs to wear one.

"It's not going to be perfect for a while," Orpik said. "You just try to work around it. It feels better than it did last year. That's the most important thing."

Defenseman Dmitry Orlov will play his first NHL game since April 13, 2014; he missed last season because of complications from wrist surgery.

During training camp Orlov competed for the sixth defenseman spot with Taylor Chorney. Capitals coach Barry Trotz said he's been impressed with Orlov's progress the past few weeks and that was a factor in the decision to play him Saturday.

"I think he's come a long way," Trotz said. "I feel like he can contribute in a couple of areas, special-team areas are where his strengths are. [I want to] just keep him playing; he's a good player."

Forwards Justin Williams and T.J. Oshie, acquired during the offseason, will play in the Capitals' top-six forward group.

"It's really exciting," Oshie said. "Today's kind of the official start of the next chapter of my career and I couldn't be more excited. I'm really looking forward to tonight and to hopefully getting off on a good start and going from there."

Braden Holtby will start in goal. Chorney and forward Stanislav Galiev will be healthy scratches for Washington.

The Devils opened their season with a 3-1 loss at home to the Winnipeg Jets on Friday.

Goaltender Keith Kinkaid, forward Stefan Matteau and defenseman Eric Gelinas will make their season debuts for the Devils. Rookie forward Brian O'Neill will play in his first NHL game. Forwards Tuomo Ruutu and Reid Boucher and defenseman Damon Severson will be scratched.

Here are the projected lineups:


Mike Cammalleri - Travis Zajac - Lee Stempniak

Adam Henrique - Jacob Josefson - Kyle Palmieri

Brian O'Neill - Sergey Kalinin - Jiri Tlusty

Stefan Matteau - Stephen Gionta - Jordin Tootoo

Andy Greene -Adam Larsson

Jon Merrill - John Moore

David Schlemko - Eric Gelinas

Keith Kinkaid

Cory Schneider

Injured: Patrik Elias (knee)

Scratched: Reid Boucher, Tuomo Ruutu, Damon Severson


Alex Ovechkin - Evgeny Kuznetsov - T.J. Oshie

Marcus Johansson - Andre Burakovsky - Justin Williams

Jason Chimera - Jay Beagle - Tom Wilson

Brooks Laich - Michael Latta - Sean Collins

Brooks Orpik - John Carlson

Matt Niskanen - Karl Alzner

Nate Schmidt - Dmitry Orlov

Braden Holtby

Philipp Grubauer

Injured: Nicklas Backstrom (hip)

Scratched: Stanislav Galiev, Taylor Chorney

Status update: Devils coach John Hynes said he scratched Ruutu, Boucher and Severson because the Devils are trying to find, "A lineup that's really competitive." … Injured Capitals center Nicklas Backstrom continues to practice and is expected to miss 4-5 games.

Who's hot: Zajac has six points in his past eight games against Washington. … Cammalleri has six points in his past five games against Washington. … Ovechkin has 10 points in 10 season openers … Washington is 6-1-0 in home openers at Verizon Center.

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