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Pens’ Orpik admits “I didn’t feel like I had any power last year”

Dec 27, 2012, 10:00 AM EDT

orpikgetty Getty Images

Some believe that the lockout will pay dividends for players who were injured or even just experiencing the grind of NHL careers. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Seth Rorabaugh singles out rugged Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Brooks Orpik as one of those beneficiaries.

Orpik needed the 2011 offseason to rehab from surgeries instead of building up strength, admitting “I didn’t feel like I had any power last year.”

“The way we’re set up now (with the schedule), you make all your gains in the summer and you just try to maintain that during the season,” Orpik said. “Once you get going in the season, you’re not really making any gains strength-wise or conditioning-wise … You dig yourself a hole.”

Orpik explains the areas where that lost strength hurts, including obvious ones like battling for pucks. It’s also a big part of skating; the hard-hitting blueliner is known to many as a surprisingly swift skater when healthy.

Oddly enough, his 2011-12 season wasn’t all that bad, though – at least on paper.

He averaged 22:33 minutes per game, more than a minute higher than his previous high of 20:53 in 2010-11. His simple stats were fine, too; he scored two goals and 18 points in 73 games with a career-high +19 rating.

Yet Orpik is bringing up his struggles, so they likely surfaced in the “little things” that make him an asset in his own zone.

(Well, that and hitting people really hard.)

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