Updated 12:15 p.m. Mikhail Grabovski did not take part in Monday’s practice and will not travel with the team to Buffalo as he remains sidelined by the left ankle injury he suffered in New Jersey on Jan. 24.
The veteran center twisted his left leg and ankle awkwardly when Devils captain Bryce Salvador fell on him in the second period of Washington’s 2-1 loss and hasn’t skated with the team since. Grabovski was walking with a pronounced limp in Montreal and did off-ice exercises on Monday but Coach Adam Oates admitted that the center’s injury is more significant than the team originally anticipated.
“It’s one of those injuries that can change fast. It’s tough to put a timetable on it because you don’t put your foot in the boot [of the skate],” Oates said. “I think once it changes it will be fine. He was just working out with weights, he looked pretty good in there. I don’t know how long it will be.”
Grabovski’s absence leaves the Capitals without their third-leading point (33) and goal (12) scorer. It also thins Washington’s center depth considerably, but more on that a little later.
Brooks Laich also didn’t take part in Monday’s practice session. Laich skated briefly with Jack Hillen, who continues to recover from a fractured tibial plateau, prior to the full team practice but Oates said he expects the versatile forward to be able to face the Sabres on Tuesday night.
“He skated before the guys went out, just loosened up and just to get on skates,” Oates said. “He played pretty hard in those two games, got hit a lot, lot of contact and asked for a maintenance day. I don’t worry about his conditioning.”
Laich has been hampered by a lingering groin injury for two seasons now and missed 14 games earlier in the year because of the persistent problem. Back in early January when he last returned to the lineup, Laich said he might need to take more skates and full practices off in order to better maintain his health and that appears to be the reasoning behind his absence on Monday.