Paul Martin and Brooks Orpik (right) are expected to serve as the Penguins' shutdown defensive pairing. Injuries caused each player missed a large portion of December (and January in Martin's case). As a result, they've only been able to play together for the past eight games since the start of the calendar year. During that span, the Penguins have surrendered 14 even-strength goals. Orpik and Martin, who will presumably be teamed together in Sochi, have been on the ice for four of those goals as a duo.
Following today's practice, head coach Dan Bylsma was asked to assess their games as individuals and as a pairing since both have returned from injury:
"I think for both guys, they’ve worked back from injury. For Paul, an even longer injury and more significant than Brooks. They’ve had to work to get back to their game. They’ve had some ups and downs in that time period. I think Brooks’ last three [games] have been really his best going back to the [Los Angeles] game and even in Phoenix game, I think he played a strong game there. He was our highest rated [defenseman] I believe that game.'
"The last game, the two of them together were I thought really good. Paul and Brooks together both played really well. I thought they defended well. They’re getting back with their timing and denying defensively. And Paul with the puck last night, he has one or two games similar to that with the puck but last night his best. Ended up with six shots on net and key on the power play there. They’ve had to work to get back that timing in their game and to get back up to speed. Thankfully for both of them, they’ve had 10 games, 12 games to do it and two more here before the [Olympic] break."
(Photo: Elsa/Getty Images)