Brooks Laich’s return should help the Capitals in a number of ways. He will eventually fill the top-line left wing spot, round out the top-six and allowing the rest of the forwards to play in their natural spots. He will provide that stabilizing presence on the penalty kill and power play while chewing up important minutes five-on-five.
His personality, full of pride and earnest pursuit of strong all-around play, should be a boon for the dressing room as well.
“The main part, hopefully, it helps our intensity. We haven’t been even close to intense enough this year,” goaltender Braden Holtby said when asked about the impact of Laich’s return. “And a guy like him, he brings it every day and I hope he can be a big leader on this team because right now we need it.”
Asked to expand on what he meant by a lack of intensity, Holtby said he doesn’t feel the Capitals’ urgency is at the level one might expect, given that they sit seven points out of the playoffs.
“I don’t know. That’s just all of us. I mean, everyone can see it. You can tell it’s just not there yet,” Holtby said. “We’re going to need it now because we’re in the playoffs right now. Every game we have to play like it’s a playoff mentality like we did last year. That starts with our intensity, and hopefully it comes.”
Matt Hendricks didn’t agree entirely with Holtby’s assessment, but did say that the Capitals have lacked intensity on the road, where they are 4-8-1 this season.
“I think the starts on the road haven’t been where they need to be. We’re trying to feel teams out a little bit too much,” Hendricks said. “We just need to come in and focus on our game, play hard, win the board battles, play gritty. Don’t be afraid. Don’t be a team that kind of shies and plays on their heels. We need to come out on our toes and if we’ve got to skate through people to get the puck, that’s what we got to do.”