After taking part in a third consecutive practice with his teammates, Brooks Laich was grinning at his stall in the Capitals’ dressing room at KCI Monday morning.
“I’m in,” Laich said. “Oct. 1 was the date that I had circled to be ready for. I would like to have had a couple more exhibition games but I felt great out there today and I’m in as far as I know. It’s their call, but 100 percent, I feel great and I’m ready to go.”
Coach Adam Oates said he would confer with head athletic trainer Greg Smith, but if Laich is prepared, expect him to face the Blackhawks Tuesday night.
“If he’s ready to go, he’ll play,” Oates said.
Laich, who missed all but nine games last season with a lingering groin injury that ultimately required surgery, tweaked his left hip flexor on Sept. 5 when he first skated at KCI after returning to Washington for the start of the summer. He’s been limited to off-ice workouts throughout much of training camp and only played in one preseason game.
“It’s been a tough year but I’ve learned a lot and done a lot of work to get myself back to where I am. A little more prep would have been great but I just want to feel healthy on the ice,” Laich said. “Today I felt great and was able to do everything I wanted. So big smile today and ready to go tomorrow.”
If Laich plays, expect a ripple effect in the lines that the Capitals used in today’s practice. He’s expected to slot on to the second line as left wing, which would push Martin Erat to the third unit. Depending whether Erat or Eric Fehr serves as the third line center, the other will likely be on the left wing of that line with Joel Ward on the right. That would leave some combination of Jason Chimera, Jay Beagle, Tom Wilson, Aaron Volpatti and Michael Latta as the fourth.