The Capitals will be without both Brooks Laich and Martin Erat, who are both out with lower-body injuries, Sunday night when they host the Tampa Bay Lightning at Verizon Center.
Laich suffered an injury in Washington’s 2-1 shootout win over the Islanders on Thursday. Coach Adam Oates has said repeatedly that the forward did not aggravate the groin injury that caused him to miss the first 28 games of the season but this problem is affecting it.
Laich, 29, is scheduled to see groin specialist Michael Brunt on Tuesday in Washington. Brunt, who is listed as a general surgeon for the St. Louis Blues, performed sports hernia surgeries on both Mike Green and Joel Ward last year and is the doctor the Capitals regularly consult when dealing with groin injuries.
“They can’t quite get a handle on what it is. He just doesn’t feel good,” Oates said. “He’s a little sore everywhere but not necessarily where he was in the groin, so that’s why he’s seeing the specialist that he’s been seeing on Tuesday.”
While it’s uncertain how much time Laich will miss, this is certainly not an encouraging sign that the utility forward will make a speedy return to the lineup.
Erat suffered an apparent left leg injury after being smashed into the boards by Panthers defenseman Erik Gudbranson in the first period of Saturday’s game at Florida. Oates said Erat, whose head collided with the boards as a result of the hit as well, did not suffer a concussion in addition to the apparent left leg injury.
“Marty felt way better than he anticipated,” Oates said. “So I don’t think it’s going to be too long.”
With both Laich and Erat out for Sunday’s game, Eric Fehr will skate as the second-line left wing alongside Mike Ribeiro and Troy Brouwer. In other lineup notes, Michal Neuvirth gets the nod against the Lightning and will make his first start since March 16 at Boston.