VANCOUVER — Dmitry Orlov and Garnet Hathaway were scheduled to land in Vancouver on Friday evening. It is possible that the ex-Capitals will be able to play for their newly strengthened employer against the Canucks on Saturday.
However, puck drop is 4pm local. The Bruins don’t hold morning skates. So when all parties conclude that Saturday is Orlov and Hathaway’s debut day, they do so without a single on-ice tune-up with their new teammates.
That could very well be.
“It will be their chance in the end,” said coach Jim Montgomery. “I imagine the excitement of putting on a spoke B uniform and joining us would be that they want to play. That will be a conversation I have with them.”
If Orlov and Hathaway want to play, Montgomery will have to make some tough decisions, especially on defense. Orlov gives the Bruins eight defenders on the varsity. Jakub Zboril, who played as the No. 7 defender in Thursday’s 6-5 victory over the Kraken, was most likely to return to the press box. Who would accompany Zboril up the Rogers Arena is unknown.
The other six defenders have together played 36 games in a row. None of them deserve to sit. For now, Montgomery could pitch it as a halftime chance.
“That would be who we think needs a night off,” Montgomery said. “We have seven, eight really good defenders. We are spoiled with an embarrassment of riches. There will be a rotation there.
Montgomery met the defenders after Thursday’s trade. He knows that as individuals they are thinking about how Orlov’s arrival will affect their prestige. Matt Grzelcyk, for example, may be on the outside in the playoffs – assuming a completely healthy blue line – due to previous postseason performance.
During their meeting, Montgomery reminded the defenders of all the injuries they suffered in the playoffs. In the past two years alone, Grzelcyk (shoulder, head), Hampus Lindholm (head), Charlie McAvoy (shoulder, COVID-19) and Brandon Carlo (head) have missed postseason time. Everyone will be needed, even if the blue line is now busier than before. After all, the team comes before the individual.
“That’s not the culture of the Bruins,” Montgomery said of players who think of themselves first. “That’s why we communicate about it. We talk about it. It’s like, ‘Hey, we wanted everyone here. Because you’re all going to help us win.’ Orlov is here to help us win. Hathaway is here to help us win. We’re deeper, right? We are better suited for a deep playoff run. Hopefully we have that kind of success that we have a deep playoff run.
Grzelcyk played the Kraken at 2 p.m., the weakest of the six regular defensemen. If Grzelcyk sits on Saturday, Orlov could see time next to McAvoy. It would make a switch very easy. According to Montgomery, the Capitals ultimately play a variant of man-to-man. The Bruins play zone defense, which can take a while to understand. Orlov needs more than a pregame video session to get his bearings.
That said, Orlov shouldn’t be upside down when he plays.
“The adrenaline of playing your first game in a new kit, the excitement of closing and moving forward is something you often want to do as a player,” said Montgomery.
It should be easier for Hathaway given his position and his straightforward style. He is not known for taking shortcuts. Hathaway likes to take the most direct route to check his opponent next week.
“He’s a guy you don’t like playing against because he plays you hard,” said Charlie Coyle, a former Hathaway off-season training partner at Foxborough’s Edge Performance Systems. “Finishes his checks. He is a man who will be so important to us, especially in the playoffs. He’s a playoff type of guy. You want those guys on your team.”
Hathaway’s lineup depends in part on whether Tomas Nosek will play. The center of the fourth line practiced for the third consecutive day on Friday. Nosek, who has missed 12 straight games due to a broken foot, is a possibility against the Canucks.
If Nosek plays, Montgomery said Hathaway would be the No. 4 right wing. Nick Foligno would be on the other flank. Foligno and Hathaway are both belligerent and eager to put opponents through the glass.
“The way he plays, he’s a man with heart and soul who gives everything he can,” said Foligno. “Having those guys on your team who understand the importance of that role makes you a harder team to play against in the first place. Then it’s also a guy you’re up against, you know what he’s going to do for you club. It kind of puts you in the foxhole together. He’s a guy who’s likely to get a lot of guys involved with the way he plays.”
In that case Trent Frederic, Nosek’s substitute in the fourth line, could move back to the No. 3 right wing alongside Coyle and Taylor Hall. AJ Greer would get the night off.
If Nosek does not play, Foligno will most likely remain on the right wing of the third line. Hathaway would ride with Greer and Frederic on the fourth line. They weigh a total of 630 pounds.
“He works so hard,” Coyle said. “We push each other in the weight room. He’s a great guy to have. Because he pushes himself. He pushes others. I’m sure he does the same on the ice and in the locker room, which is a good thing. Those are just the type of guys who are willing to work and put in the effort to play the right way. He fits that description quite well.”
(Photo by Dmitry Orlov: John McCreary/NHLI via Getty Images)