Brooks Orpik’s Trouble in the Crease

Posted March 9, 2018

(Caps Outsider)

Despite coach Barry Trotz’s faith in Brooks Orpik, his stats are taking a beating, as Kevin Klein’s shows in his article on Japers’ Rink. But there are other myths about Orpik that need debunked.

One is that he is a ‘crease-clearing’ defenseman.

“He’s a big body, he can clear people,” Trotz said recently.

Yet crease clearing defensemen don’t normally let the same player take three shots, as Tyler Lewis showed last night. Not only does Orpik get beat wide, showing he is slow, but Lewis gets three wacks at the puck.

If Orpik was a crease clearing defenseman, then Lewis would not have gotten more than one shot off as he would have been cleared from the crease. Though that’s just one example, look at it on a larger scale, with heat maps from

This heat map is five-on-five  unblocked shots with Orpik on the ice. As you can see, you have dark red, meaning a lot of shots are coming from that area, in the slot and the crease. This is not all on Orpik, but here is the heat map for when he is not on the ice.

This is still bad, but it is nowhere near as bad as with Orpik. Also, without him, not as many shots are coming from directly to the left or right of the crease.

His crease clearing abilities, or lack thereof, also translate to the penalty kill, which brings up the second point.

Agin, the heat map shows that Orpik does not clear the crease, not even on the penalty kill.

Though it’s still not great without him on the penalty kill, it shows that while Orpik is on the ice, the Caps are allowing more shots from the slot and crease.

Moreover, Orpik has been on the ice longer than anybody else has while the Caps have been shorthanded. According to Naturalstattrick, when he is on the ice, the Caps have allowed 24 power play goals, 219 scoring chances and 86 high danger chances. Both the amount of chances, and the amount of high danger chances are last on the team. Of those 86 high danger chances, 27 of them are when he is not with John Carlson. Orpik is simply not getting it done there either.

Claims that Orpik  can clear the crease and is good on the penalty kill aren’t totally true anymore, yet are keeping him in the lineup. If  Trotz wants to be the coach in DC again next year, then he needs to come into 2018 like most of us and realize that Orpik is not an NHL caliber defenseman and should not be in the lineup night in and night out. This does not seem likely, though.

As a result, Caps fans should be ready for another early playoff exit and a new coach for next season. Trotz’s old school mentality of needing a “big body” that delivers “physical attributes” is simply not getting it done in today’s NHL.