Brooks Laich did not practice with the Capitals at Consol Energy Center Wednesday afternoon, a day after he made his season debut.
It was a planned maintenance day for Laich, who skated 12:51 in Tuesday’s 2-1 loss to the Penguins in his first game since recovering from a groin injury that has sidelined him since November. Laich, 29, did off-ice strengthening work while his teammates skated and while he was the only player who made the trip to Pittsburgh that did not take part in the session the versatile forward said he made it through his season debut with a clean bill of health.
“I didn’t sleep real well last night because I was kind of concerned that maybe it wouldn’t be. But I woke up this morning and actually felt pretty good,” said Laich, who added he is ready and able to play against Winnipeg Thursday. “Today was part of the plan, even before the game was to do strengthening the next day to make sure I maintained that strength so that I’m strong going into Winnipeg. But no red flags, no setbacks. Felt pretty good last night and I’m very optimistic right now.”
With Laich not taking part in the workout, Wojtek Wolski skated as the second-line left wing alongside Mike Ribeiro and Troy Brouwer. Wolski has been a healthy scratch in five of the last six games and is likely just filling in for the day, as long as Laich is ready to play against the Jets.
There’s one other change to the forward combinations this afternoon as Joel Ward has been demoted to the fourth line. It was Ward who turned the puck over after the Capitals’ failed power-play attempt in the third period Tuesday night and allowed Pittsburgh to spring up ice on a 3-on-2 for the game-winning goal. Ward didn’t take another shift in the final 8:02 of regulation.
On the blue line, Mike Green worked in a pairing with Karl Alzner through most of the team’s rushes and drills. Coach Adam Oates said Tuesday that he remained optimistic that Green, who has missed 13 of the past 15 games with a nagging groin problem, would be able to play on this road trip.
Green said after practice he is ready to play Thursday in Winnipeg, but Oates was less certain. The first year coach understands that Green wants to come back and help the Capitals try to keep their playoff hopes alive, but Oates stressed caution.
Here’s what the line combinations and pairings looked like in practice:
Schultz-Oleksy-Orlov rotating through drills