- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Although defenseman Brooks Orpik returned to practice for the first time in over a week on Tuesday, his availability for Game 1 of the Washington Capitals‘ second-round playoff series against the Pittsburgh Penguins is still in question.

Orpik, who is believed to have sustained a concussion, left Game 3 of the Capitals‘ first-round series against the Philadelphia Flyers on April 18 midway through the second period when he was hit into the half boards by the Flyers’ Ryan White.

After hitting his head against the glass, Orpik immediately fell to his hands and knees and remained there for several seconds until being helped up to his feet by athletic trainer Greg Smith and teammate John Carlson. Once upright, Orpik’s eyes closed and his head dropped back down, as if to fall asleep. They skated him to the bench and then assisted him down the tunnel for observations.

Orpik did not address the specific nature of his injury on Tuesday, which marked the first time since he has spoken with reporters since getting hurt. The team has a policy forbidding a discussion of injuries, which Orpik was reminded of by a spokesman before he answered questions for roughly five minutes, and it has described Orpik’s ailment as merely an “upper-body injury.”

“It was just one of those ones [where] I didn’t see it coming,” Orpik said of White’s hit. “If I saw it coming, nothing comes of it. I’ve been hit a lot harder than that and been fine, so I think it’s just bad luck.”

Orpik was replaced in the next two games by Taylor Chorney, then by Mike Weber in Game 6, which the Capitals won, 1-0, to eliminate the Flyers.

Coach Barry Trotz would not commit to Orpik’s availability for Game 1 against the Penguins, with whom he spend parts of his first 11 seasons before joining the Capitals in 2014. The start date for that series has not yet been determined by the NHL.

Orpik skated for the first time on Monday, when the Capitals were granted a day off, before rejoining his teammates a day later. He said he was “a little rusty, as expected.”

“I still have to do some stuff with the doctors to make sure everything is going right,” Orpik said. “That’ll happen the next couple days, but it was a good step getting back on the ice.”

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