After 40-game absence, Orpik back for Caps tonight

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In a season where nearly everything has gone right, Washington’s lone blemishes this season have been long-term injuries to Jay Beagle and Brooks Orpik.

Tonight, the Orpik blemish gets cleared up.

The veteran defenseman will return after missing the last 40 games with a lower-body injury when the Caps host the Kings at Verizon, Orpik confirmed. It’ll be the rugged defenseman’s first game since November 10, in which he exited a 1-0 loss to Detroit after just 6:49 of ice time.

In Orpik’s absence, the Caps have gone 30-6-4.

For his comeback, it looks as though Orpik will play on a pairing with Dmitry Orlov, meaning Taylor Chorney will come out of the lineup.

It’ll be interesting to see what kind of impact Orpik will have.

He was averaging 19:15 TOI through the first 14 games this season, coming off a ’14-15 campaign in which he played 21:48 per night (and that TOI average went up to 22:17 in the playoffs).

His physical, robust style has always been a favorite of head coach Barry Trotz — “the things that Brooks Orpik does, you can’t put a value on,” Trotz said when Washington signed Orpik to a $27.5 million deal two summers ago — and the return could adjust GM Brian MacLellan’s strategy at the trade deadline, though it’s likely he’d still want to add defensive depth.