Capitals without Brooks Laich and John Erskine against Bruins

March 6

(AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

BOSTON – The Capitals will be without both Brooks Laich and John Erskine on Thursday night as they take on the Bruins.

Laich aggravated the nagging groin problem that has plagued him over the last two seasons Wednesday night in Philadelphia and, in what isn’t an encouraging sign, the veteran forward did not stay on the road with the team but is on his way back to Washington.

The Capitals recalled winger Chris Brown, whom they acquired from Phoenix as part of the trade that sent Martin Erat to the Coyotes on Tuesday. Brown, 23, appeared in 11 NHL games over the past two seasons with Phoenix and has recorded 14 goals (35 points) in 51 games with the AHL’s Portland Pirates this year.

When he met with reporters, Coach Adam Oates said he was still trying to determine line combinations. Washington held an optional skate in which only seven players participated, so pregame warmups will offer the first look at the lineup against the Bruins.

Brown is a “big strong guy, scored [29] goals in the minors [in 2012-13]. He can put the puck in the net,”  Oates said. “He’s kind of a guy that hopefully will fit into the mold of Brouw, Wardo, Willy in let’s get it behind their D, get on the forecheck and establish some territory for us.”

General Manager George McPhee told reporters Wednesday at the Capitals’ training facility in Arlington that he liked adding another sizable winger to the organization.

“He’s a big kid. He can score goals at the pro level it looks like. Skates well enough. Plays physical. Drops the mitts once in a while. So he’s got that NHL size we like and interestingly enough, [CSN analyst and former Capital] Alan May knows him really well from Texas and says he’s a great character kid and really wants to be a player and puts in the time to train and do everything that’s necessary to be a good pro….We like that size on the wings that we have with guys like Wilson and Brouwer, Ward and Chimera and he’s another one. It’s nice to have that size in on the wall.”

On the blueline, the Capitals will be without Erskine, who is sidelined by what the team will only describe as an undisclosed upper-body injury. The rugged defenseman played only 5:34 against the Flyers before receiving a game misconduct for a fight with Vincent Lecavalier and Wayne Simmonds.

Washington has recalled Cameron Schilling in Erskine’s stead. Schilling, who will be the 14th defenseman to suit up for the Capitals this season assuming he plays against the Bruins as expected, missed Hershey’s last six games with an undisclosed upper-body injury.

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