NEW YORK | From the looks of Sunday’s practice, Jeff Schultz could be back in the Washington Capitals’ lineup for Game 2 at the New York Rangers on Monday night after a brief respite. Schultz was paired with Dennis Wideman, so it’s very possibly he replaces John Erskine, who played just 8:07 Saturday and looked a step slow.
“Well, we’ve been undecided the whole time on who we’re going to play,” coach Dale Hunter said after Sunday’s practice. “They’re both fairly big guys. Schultzy’s a little bit bigger. And you know Erskine is more aggressive. But we haven’t really decided yet. But whichever guy goes in has to do their job.”
What the Caps have seemingly decided is that Dmitry Orlov isn’t even warranting consideration. The 20-year-old defenseman hasn’t sniffed the lineup since the final game of the regular season.
“We haven’t decided yet. They all can go in and do the job,’ Hunter said. “That’s what’s great about this. We have a lot of depth.”
Orlov’s absence from the lineup for the entire Boston Bruins series and Game 1 against the Rangers is a bit puzzling considering he was one of the most pleasant surprises on the blue line during much of the regular season. He had three goals, 16 assists and a plus-1 rating in 60 games.
Asked why Orlov was banished to the press box, Hunter said: “Well, we went with more of a defensive defenseman on the last pairing to kill more penalties and shut guys down.”
Currently, the third defensive pairing includes Wideman, who has a minus-5 rating so far in the playoffs. But Orlov did not kill penalties during his rookie season.