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Capitals coach Barry Trotz suggests NHL favors Penguins

Barry Trotz said Brooks Orpik got a stiffer suspension from the NHL because his headshot was against the Penguins.

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Brooks Orpik won't be taking the ice with the Washington Capitals Monday night. And he's O.K. with that.

Speaking ahead of Game 3 in Pittsburgh, Orpik admitted that the head shot he delivered on former Penguins teammate Olli Maatta “was a bad hit” and that the three-game suspension he was given by the league was "fair."

“It was intended to be a hard hit,” he told a horde of reporters. “Definitely not at his head, but … it was definitely late. It was pretty black-and-white. I said that during my hearing yesterday. It's a split-second decision you make and I just gotta live with it.”

Maatta is suspected of suffering from concussion symptoms and won't be available to play in Game 3 either. And it's not because of the timing of the hit.

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At least Orpik didn't try to shirk all responsibility for his actions. And, to his credit, he seems to be getting better at dealing with his on-ice transgressions. Copping to the damage he caused here is a vast improvement over his response in the wake of landing this epic cheap shot on Boston's Loui Eriksson.

But let's not spend too much time patting him on the back for choosing not to lie to us all. This response was the bare minimum he could have offered.

After he was done doing his public penance, his coach set himself up for a future mea culpa of his own.

"I’m disappointed in the length more than anything else," Barry Trotz offered when asked for reaction to Orpik's suspension. "That injury to [Dmitry] Orlov in the previous series [could have been] career-ending,” he said of the hit by Pierre-Edourd Bellemare that earned the Flyers forward a one-game suspension. "I’m disappointed, but I’m not surprised based on who we’re playing and all that. So we’ll just move forward."

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Asked to clarify his comments, Trotz said: “Take it for whatever you want.”

Suggesting the league is in the bag for the Penguins? Really?

2016 NHL playoffs: Penguins vs. Capitals series preview

​Trotz would have done himself and the Capitals organization a favor by condemning the incident and backing the player. Sort of like how Bruins coach Claude Julien responded after Shawn Thornton pummeled Orpik in retaliation for the Eriksson hit.

"I agree, he did cross the line," Julien said at the time of the 2013 incident. "He got caught in the emotions. There's nobody that's proud of what happened. Absolutely not. So he's going to suffer the consequences and so will we.

"But the one thing about [Thornton] is that anybody who knows him personally knows he's a pretty honest player and a pretty honest person and if he said he really regretted it and felt bad, he really did. And I support his comment because I know he's being truthful.

"That's more than we can say about players that pretend it wasn't done on purpose or [they] really didn't mean it. Yet it's pretty obvious when you look at it. [Thornton] did cross the line and some others did too. But sometimes you have to man up to those things and I think he did."

It's a fast game. Mistakes are going to happen. When they do, it's best to own up to them. All the way.