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Orpik's physical play a hit with Pens

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By Mike Prisuta
Friday, May 30, 2008

For 15 magnificent seconds, Penguins defenseman Brooks Orpik turned Game 3 of the Stanley Cup final into a personal showcase of mayhem.

"It was just a yard sale," Pens defenseman Rob Scuderi said. "There were guys and sticks and helmets everywhere.

"It was great to see."

The carnage started with 10:53 remaining in the third period on Wednesday night at Mellon Arena, when Orpik flattened Red Wings center Kris Draper along the half-wall in the Penguins' end.

Next came a pummeling of winger Dallas Drake into the boards behind the Penguins' net.

Seconds after that, Drake got it again in the corner to the left of goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury.

Finally, winger Dan Cleary felt Orpik's wrath, kissing the boards and the ice about where Drake had been nailed by Orpik the first time seconds earlier.

"You might want to check him for HGH," Scuderi said of Orpik. "I think the biggest thing is I'm pretty sure all four guys went down. Usually, guys at this level are able to take a hit. They see it coming, they prepare themselves.

"It was just crazy. I've never see anything like that at this level."

Actually, Draper managed to keep his feet.

The other two were bounced around by Orpik like red rubber balls (although Scuderi again exaggerated slightly in acknowledging the "yard sale;" there was no loss of sticks and helmets).

"Orpik hit about 20 guys," Penguins forward Max Talbot said, also exaggerating but making his point all the same. "It was amazing."

The hits were a product of Orpik playing his game rather than going on a personal rampage.

He emphasized following the Penguins' 3-2 victory the need to avoid taking himself out of position in search of big hits against an offensively gifted team such as the Red Wings.

That's a distinction Penguins coach Michel Therrien had been trying for some time to convince Orpik to appreciate.

"We always knew Brooks Orpik was a physical defenseman," Therrien said. "He needed to learn when it was time to be physical."

Orpik and the Penguins will continue trying to take advantage of the proper times to punish Detroit on Saturday night in Game 4.

"You want to keep pounding them," Orpik said. "You look over there; they have a lot of older guys. They're competitive guys, but they're getting up there. You want to try to pound on them, especially if it's going to be a long series.

"You want to pound on them as much as possible."

Orpik said the Penguins are convinced a physical price can and is being extracted on the likes of veteran Red Wings such as Samuelsson (31), Brian Rafalski (34), Tomas Holmstrom (35), Kirk Maltby (35), Draper (37), Nicklas Lidstrom (38) and Drake (39), among others.

"You can see it on their faces at times," Orpik said. "Toward the end of the game, we saw (Henrik) Zetterberg (and Mikael) Samuelsson. You look at their faces, they can barely get to the bench; they're gassed. The more you can beat on them in a clean way, that's going to be beneficial later on in the series."

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