Capitals center Brooks Laich is dealing with a left knee injury. But how long will he be out? That remains unclear. Laich did not practice on Monday at Kettler Iceplex and had a doctor’s appointment scheduled for later in the day.
“He’s day-to-day and it’s not major so that’s good news,” Washington coach Dale Hunter said. The team wouldn’t even rule him out for sure for the critical Southeast Division game against the Florida Panthers on Tuesday at Verizon Center, as unlikely as that prospect appears. But that doctor’s appointment still looms and until we get an exact diagnosis – from the team or someone else – Laich’s status remains fluid.
The Caps are desperately trying to maintain their position in the Eastern Conference playoff race. Laich was injured with eight minutes left in the second period of Sunday’s loss to Boston. He took a check from Bruins defenseman Dennis Seidenberg and came up limping. He was helped off the ice. After a brief attempt to test the left knee before the start of the third period, Laich departed for good. He was seen after the game walking on crutches with a knee stabilizer clearly visible on the outside of his suit.
Laich, 28, leads all Washington forwards in time on ice. He is sixth in time on ice per game (19:13), fourth on the power play (2:24), third on the penalty kill (2:35). He has taken a team-high 903 faceoffs (49.3%) and has 10 goals and 18 assists. So he plays multiple roles on this team. It’s why the Caps offered him a six-year, $27 million contract ($4.5 million salary-cap hit) after last season. They didn’t feel like they could easily replace everything Laich does for them.
Now they’ll find out exactly how difficult that task will be. Washington practiced without Laich on Monday morning. Laich has missed 22 games total since he became a full-time player in the NHL in 2005-06, including four in March, 2010 after a shot in practice by teammate John Carlson smashed off the crossbar and rebounded directly into Laich’s face. He had played in all 52 of the Caps’ games so far this season. According to Capitals’ senior staff writer Mike Vogel, Laich has missed four games due to injury since the start of the 2007-08 season.
“He's utility for us. He does a little bit of everything,” defenseman Karl Alzner said of Laich after Sunday’s game. “We've got to change things up then. A lot of guys are going to have to fill the void if he's out. I don't really know what the extent of that injury is right now, but he's a pretty tough guy, so it has to pretty good if he's going to be out for a few games.”
Hope to have more on Laich later this afternoon.
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