He is the one they call “Batya” — a Russian term of endearment that means “dad” — and to understand what Brooks Orpik means to the Washington Capitals, forward Tom Wilson suggests listening to the screams on the ice Saturday when Orpik lifted his stick, spun his right fist high in the air and let out a long “Wooooooo!” before being mobbed by teammates.
“There's really no better guy to score an OT winner,” Wilson said.
batya.gif pic.twitter.com/O7Mo5m6g6N— Washington Capitals (@Capitals) April 14, 2019
There’s really no one on Washington’s roster more unlikely to have scored the goal that lifted the Capitals to a 4-3 overtime win in Game 2 of this first-round series with the Carolina Hurricanes, which Washington leads 2-0. But there’s really no one more seasoned for springtime glory — the reason the Capitals re-signed Orpik, 38, for one more year last summer, just one month after trading him in a salary cap-clearing move. His name is already etched on the Stanley Cup twice, and if Washington repeats as champion, it will largely be because of Orpik’s influence on the ice and in the dressing room.
“You cannot put a price on experience in playoff hockey,” said Capitals Coach Todd Reirden, who coached Orpik as an assistant in Pittsburgh before both men came to Washington five years ago. “I know what happens in playoff time playing against a player like that.”
In Game 1 against Carolina, Orpik was the team’s muscle, with seven bruising hits that could go a long way to wearing down the Hurricanes by the end of this series. In Game 2, he got four more licks in, skated nearly 19 minutes — including a team-high 3:57 shorthanded — and capped it with a one-timer of Evgeny Kuznetsov’s feed for the third playoff game-winning goal of his career. He has just four goals in 151 playoff games, and he has 18 regular season goals for his career, which has spanned 16 years and 1,035 games.