As Coach Bruce Boudreau continues to experiment with various lineup configurations this preseason, where one of his most versatile players will end up remains to be determined. As the preseason progresses, though, it’s beginning to look like Brooks Laich will be on the wing as he has been most often in recent seasons.
“As it stands right now we’re still up in the air, whether would it be center or wing with him,” Boudreau said. “We just want to get him in a couple more games at both positions for him to feel comfortable at either one, to start taking more faceoffs in case it was center that he’s playing.”
Laich has appeared in two exhibition games so far, starting each as the left wing on the second line. In Chicago, though, when Marcus Johansson left the contest after feeling dizzy, Laich centered the top line with Alex Ovechkin and Joel Ward on the wings.
There were a couple of practices at the start of training camp where Laich was placed at center, but the majority of sessions he’s been on the wing, as he was Tuesday morning at KCI. Laich admitted that he feels more comfortable at wing simply because of how consistently he’s been placed there.
“I do spot duty at center, but it’s not long enough to really iron out your game and really feel like you’re controlling or affecting a game,” Laich said Tuesday. “One game here or there is nice, but in order to really feel comfortable and start really contributing at center it would take probably four or five games to really get in a rhythm.”
Where Laich will ultimately play at the start of the year is also something that will be dictated by which player wins the battle for the final roster spot. One thing is consistent among three of the candidates, though, as Mathieu Perreault, Mattias Sjogren and Cody Eakin are all natural centers and have seen most of their playing time in the preseason there.
“Looking at everything right now, I’m thinking I’m going to play wing a little bit more,” Laich said, listing the names of the aforementioned players hoping to crack the lineup. “There’s options down the middle and I’m an easy guy to move to wing to make room for that. Each day’s a new day, I just come prepared to play and it doesn’t really matter the position.”
Boudreau said he plans to determine where Laich plays best once the remaining roster spot is filled.
“I think Brooks fits in anywhere,” Boudreau said. “I think that would be more of…what kind of team do we want to start out the season with? And then you’d find where Brooks could fit in.”