Starkey: 'Bruce' Orpik is just getting started
What a beautifully contentious Game 1 it was for Brooks (Don't Call Me Bruce) Orpik. I'll get to the “Bruce” part in a minute.
Vintage is another word that springs to mind. Clearly, Orpik's body has allowed him to ramp it up for Round 2, and that can only be a good thing for the Penguins.
“I think we always look to ‘Orps' for that boost,” Sidney Crosby said. “We've gotten used to him making those big hits. You need that in the playoffs.”
If Orpik wasn't detaining little Cory Conacher in the goal crease (and cross-checking him in the face), he was rope-a-doping Chris Neil, stifling Jakob Silfverberg's point-blank scoring chance or stepping up to attempt huge hits — one of which ended Eric Gryba's evening.
Even on his way out of the locker room, Orpik found conflict. A reporter addressed him with a word that sounded suspiciously like “Bruce.”
“Brooks,” Orpik countered.
“Bruce,” the reporter repeated.
“Brooks,” Orpik replied, testily.
Rest assured, the Senators didn't have any trouble identifying the guy wearing No. 44 for the Penguins. Orpik was Bruce Almighty on this night, logging a team-high 24:03 of ice time and helping to kill six penalties.
Still sporting his highly intense game face, Orpik stopped to answer questions on his way to the showers (this was before the “Bruce” guy came along).
As always, the answers were laced with brutal honesty:
How different is this series compared to Round 1?
“I think it's a better matchup for us than the Islanders were,” Orpik said. “Everyone kept alluding to how bad we were playing against them and the mistakes we were making. I think they, for whatever reason, just presented a tough matchup.”
Who got the better of that second-period collision between Orpik and Gryba? Orpik went down first. But he also got up first.
“I think I got the best,” Orpik said. “I don't think he came back in the game.”
Indeed, Gryba, who was concussed in the Montreal series, left with an “upper-body injury.” Orpik wasn't looking to take him out. It was a clean hit.
But in the playoffs, there is no remorse.
“He had his head down,” Orpik said. “I tried to hit him as square as I could. I think I went right through his body. I think maybe he got part of the impact in the head, which is unfortunate. That's one of those things where you're just trying to play hard.
“This time of year, if the guy misses a couple of games, it's probably good for our team. On the flip side, you hope he's not too badly injured.”
Orpik was injured — “lower-body” — late in the regular season and missed the first three games of the Islanders series. He returned in time to score the Penguins' most unlikely playoff goal since Darius Kasparaitis more than a decade earlier.
Now, he appears to be back in form, if not perfect health. He told me about a month ago that if he played the way he wanted to play every night, he wouldn't last a month.
It's playoffs now. He will play as he pleases.
“I hate to say this, 'cause fans pay good money,” Orpik said, “but you do have to pace yourself during the regular season, physically, or you won't even be playing this time of year.”
Orpik finally cracked a smile when I asked if he's close to “a hundred percent.”
“I haven't been a hundred percent in 10 years,” he said. “I don't even know what a hundred percent is anymore. But I don't have any complaints. If you can get out there and skate, that's good enough this time of year.”
You could ask Marian Hossa from the 2009 Cup final or Steven Stamkos from 2011: Orpik often makes his mark early in a series.
Brian Engblom, on NBC, described the Gryba hit this way: “Gryba had his head down trying to control the puck. He thought he'd make a nice little move. He hasn't seen enough of Brooks Orpik, I guess ... but by now he has.”
All the Senators have, and we're only one game in.
Ol' Bruce is just getting started.
Joe Starkey co-hosts a show 2 to 6 p.m. weekdays on 93.7 FM. His columns appear Thursdays and Sundays. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- For Steelers outside linebacker Jones, size is not an obstacle
- Pirates top Cardinals, 5-2, on Davis’ homer; Alvarez, McCutchen hurt
- Steelers notebook: Team cuts 15 players, including LB So’oto, RB Hall
- Steelers cornerbacks Allen, Gay, Taylor have something to prove
- Latrobe law firm’s secretary pleads guilty to income tax evasion
- Pittsburgh paramedics treat 38 people at Stage AE concert
- Dem Wolf eyes shale’s ‘golden egg’ to boost school funding
- Indiana County township ‘afraid for the water’ fights waste well
- Harmar police make 2 drug arrests as part of crackdown on crime
- 2 top technology officers leave UPMC
- PSU notebook: Freshman cornerback Haley soars up depth chart