Some believe that the lockout will pay dividends for players who were injured or even just experiencing the grind of NHL careers. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Seth Rorabaugh singles out rugged Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Brooks Orpik as one of those beneficiaries.
Orpik needed the 2011 offseason to rehab from surgeries instead of building up strength, admitting “I didn’t feel like I had any power last year.”
“The way we’re set up now (with the schedule), you make all your gains in the summer and you just try to maintain that during the season,” Orpik said. “Once you get going in the season, you’re not really making any gains strength-wise or conditioning-wise … You dig yourself a hole.”
Orpik explains the areas where that lost strength hurts, including obvious ones like battling for pucks. It’s also a big part of skating; the hard-hitting blueliner is known to many as a surprisingly swift skater when healthy.
Oddly enough, his 2011-12 season wasn’t all that bad, though – at least on paper.
He averaged 22:33 minutes per game, more than a minute higher than his previous high of 20:53 in 2010-11. His simple stats were fine, too; he scored two goals and 18 points in 73 games with a career-high +19 rating.
Yet Orpik is bringing up his struggles, so they likely surfaced in the “little things” that make him an asset in his own zone.
(Well, that and hitting people really hard.)
In some ways, it really felt like their first-round series.
For all the talent on both ends of the rink with the Detroit Red Wings and Tampa Bay Lightning, each squad can really smother opponents defensively when things go that way.
Through two periods, the two teams were very quiet. Things really picked up when Justin Abdelkader unleashed a big hit, a moment that injected enough life into the proceedings for the Red Wings to eventually build a 3-1 win.
Maybe they’re slipping under the radar a bit compared to previous iterations of the team, but it’s interesting that the Red Wings are now undefeated in three games.
They’ve been impressive at times, too, outscoring opponents by a combined score of 11-4.
Call it a refreshing time after Mike Babcock or merely carryover from a subtly solid run last season, but either way, the Red Wings may just be able to keep up their end of a brewing rivalry.
Taking three games to score your first NHL goal isn’t a big deal, unless you’re someone like Connor McDavid.
The mega-hyped wunderkind must feel relieved to finally find the net, as he tied tonight’s Edmonton Oilers – Dallas Stars skirmish with a 2-2 deflection goal, which you can watch above this post’s headline.
To no surprise, there were plenty of reactions, including Pierre LeBrun’s tweet (which inspired part of this headline).
Of course, there were the inevitable Wayne Gretzky comparisons:
Interesting thing you might not consider: Stars fans will have to stomach this one even more frequently than that time Patrik Stefan biffed that empty-netter (also against the Oilers):
McDavid may have also delivered his first questionable check, too: