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Martin, Orpik find comfort level as new shutdown pairing - 01-21-12

Written by Seth Rorabaugh on .

(Note: Empty Netter Assists will be late today on account of travel. In the meantime, please enjoy the following.)

All of two games into the 2012-13 campaign, the Penguins appear to have a new shutdown pairing in the form of Paul Martin and Brooks Orpik (above).

After allowing a goal to Flyers captain Claude Giroux Saturday, Martin and Orpik managed to keep the Rangers' top lines off the scoreboard last night. The Rangers' only even-strength goal came with Martin and Orpik on the bench.

Prior to yesterday's game, both players talked about their new pairing.

Orpik

Have you found a comfort level with one another after a week of training camp?

"We’ve had a week to work to with. The way the last couple of years played out, we didn’t play with each other much at all. I can only speak for my half of it, I felt pretty comfortable with it right from the start. Sometime I think it’s easier for older guys. Older guys tend to communicate more than younger guys. I guess it’s something you learn as you go on, how much communication helps you. It’s only the weekend, so hopefully it gets better and better as we go."

You play a physical game. Martin relies more on positioning and an active stick. Is it good to have two different styles to balance out?

I don’t know. Maybe the coaches have a better answer. I haven’t really thought about it to be honest. Maybe that was their thinking going into it, I don’t know. I watched the (Stanley Cup Final) Final last year. (Los Angeles) always had a defensive guy with an offensive guy to kind of balance the pairing out. But I haven’t really thought about the physical aspect versus how Pauly plays. Maybe.

You primarily played with Kris Letang the past few seasons, a right-handed shot. Martin is left-handed. How big of an adjustment is that?

"For me, it’s not different. For Paul, it’s different. Just catching it. Just playing the right side, when you catch the puck, you have different angles as opposed to when you catch it on your strong side. Defensively, guys come down, your stick is on your outside as opposed to the inside. There are some advantages. Offensively, it’s a huge advantage. Getting pucks off the wall, you already have the puck in the middle shooting-wise. I know if you ask (Letang), he loves being on the left side. Offensively, his stick in the middle all of the time. He has a shooting lane established right away. Defensively, I think there’s a couple minor things you just got to get used to. But for me, it’s no different playing with a righty or a lefty. I think it’s probably different for Pauly though."

Martin (right)

Have you found a comfort level with one another after a week of training camp?

"He’s easy to play with. You know what you’re going to get every night. Where he’s going to be. Plays great positionally. He’s physical. He moves the puck well. He communicates well on the ice. Being able to just watch him then play with him, you know what to expect. I’ve never played the right side here in Pittsburgh but I played it a lot of years in New Jersey. Just have to get a little bit comfortable again playing the right side again. Hopefully we’ll get better as it goes along."

You rely quite a bit on positioning and an active stick. Orpik is physical. Is it good to have two different styles to balance out?

"It could. For Brooksy being as physical as he is, he still has a great stick if he needs it. The positioning part, as a defensive unit, they teach the stick on puck. I personally always have used my stick more than I have my body. I think it can help when you have two guys doing two different things out there. It depends a lot on the coaches and what they want."

You primarily played with Zbynek Michalek, a right-handed shot, the past two seasons. Orpik is left-handed. How big of an adjustment is that?

"It changes it a little bit depending on where you are on the ice. Coming out of your (defensive) zone, behind the net, getting the puck off the wall in the offensive zone you’re just on your opposite hand. Some of it is more of an advantage than it is a disadvantage depending on how you look at it. I think a lot of it is personal preference. I played a lot on the right side growing up. I was really comfortable doing it. In the neutral zone, you’re more open and looking up the ice. When you go behind the net, you’re on your forehand. I think there are different things that are good and things not as easy."

(Photo: Orpik-Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)

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