NEWARK, N.J. — The Penguins have been given today off, and defenseman Brooks Orpik figures he might spend part of it in front of his television.
But only if he has to.
The U.S. team for the 2014 Olympics will be announced this afternoon after the Winter Classic between Detroit and Toronto at Michigan Stadium, and Orpik, like injured teammate Paul Martin, is a candidate to claim a spot on the USA defense.
“I’d hope I’d find out before [the announcement],” Orpik said after the Penguins’ 2-1 loss Tuesday to New Jersey.
He acknowledged that he likely would tune in if the makeup of the roster still is secret, but reiterated that “I’d rather find out for myself than have someone else tell me.”
Martin, like Orpik, was chosen for the 2010 squad that earned a silver medal in Vancouver, although Martin was unable to play because of an injury.
The Penguins closed out the first half of the season with 227 man-games lost because of injury, and added eight more to that total Tuesday.
Nonetheless, they have a stranglehold on first place in the Metropolitan Division, and Devils coach Pete DeBoer believes — not without reason — that Sidney Crosby is a major factor in the Penguins’ success despite dressing a diluted lineup so much of the time.
“[They have] the best player in the world,” he said. “That helps. Not to minimize what they’ve gone through — it’s impressive — but when you have great players like that — and they’ve got more than one — you can put a couple of guys with guys like that, and all of a sudden, they’re first-line players.
“You see that across the league. That team has won a Stanley Cup. There’s a reason why. They have a handful of great players, and they have good depth in the organization. The kids have come in and have filled some of those spots.”
Obviously, the Devils were pleased to defeat the Penguins in regulation. But they might have appreciated it even more than some people realize. That’s because New Jersey has lost 10 consecutive shootouts, including six this season.
“Two years ago, we couldn’t lose a shootout,” Devils forward Travis Zajac said. “Now, we can’t win one.”
Nineteen of New Jersey’s 20 shooters have failed to score, with Reid Boucher the lone exception. Aside from Boucher, who scored on his only try, the Devils are 0-for-the-season.
The individual breakdown: Patrik Elias 0 for 4, Zajac 0 for 4, Ryan Clowe 0 for 3, Adam Henrique 0 for 2, Michael Ryder 0 for 2, Jaromir Jagr 0 for 2 and Damien Brunner 0 for 2.
Devils goalie Martin Brodeur has given up three goals on 11 attempts by shootout opponents; backup Cory Schneider has allowed three on eight.
Penguins goalies Marc-Andre Fleury and Jeff Zatkoff, meanwhile, have rejected all 10 shootout attempts they’ve faced while combining for a 3-0 record.
Assist for Brodeur
Brodeur picked up the second assist on Ryder’s goal early in the second period. That was his 46th career point, tying him with Grant Fuhr for second place on the NHL’s all-time list among goaltenders. Former Penguin Tom Barrasso ranks first with 48.
Boston left winger Shawn Thornton decided against a further appeal of his 15-game suspension for assaulting Orpik in a game Dec. 7 at TD Garden. His suspension was upheld by NHL commissioner Gary Bettman last week. … The Penguins’ healthy scratch was rookie defenseman Olli Maatta, who had dressed for each of the previous 41 games.
Dave Molinari: Dmolinari@Post-Gazette.com and Twitter @MolinariPG.