Capitals winger Brooks Laich is close to a return

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Washington Capitals winger Brooks Laich, who has missed the past three games after taking a puck to the face last week, said he plans to take the morning skate Tuesday before deciding whether he's able to suit up against the Ottawa Senators.

"I hate missing hockey games," Laich said Monday at Kettler Capitals Iceplex. "I can't stand it. I love to play hockey and I love to play for the Capitals. I don't ever want to watch from up top."

Coach Bruce Boudreau, though, wasn't ready to say when the gritty winger would be back in the lineup, telling reporters there is "a good chance he'll play by the weekend."

"He's a quick healer and very determined young man," Boudreau added. "If there's a chance for him to play, then he'll play."

"When I got hit, my whole side of my face just went numb," Laich said of getting struck on the left side of his face by rookie John Carlson's deflected shot in practice. "Obviously my head was ringing a little bit. But I've had a lot worse pain. But I've never had anything where I couldn't feel it. So that was a little bit scary."

The winger said this is actually the second face injury he's had. In fact, the last time (prior to this stretch) in which he was sidelined due to injury came during the 2003-04 American Hockey League playoffs, he said, when he was struck by a slap shot.

When Laich returns, he'll do so with a full cage attached to his helmet. But he plans to eventually resume playing without eye protection.

"My eye doesn't really look that pretty, but there's no problem with my eyesight," he said. "As soon as I can get the cage off, I'll get it off. It sounds dumb, but I wish I would wear a visor and protect the eyes. Maybe if I had a visor, this wouldn't have happened. But I don't know. I don't see myself wearing a visor. They get in the way a little bit."

Laich also said he doesn't think the injury will affect his go-to-the-net style of play.

"If I want to keep getting paid, I know where I have to go," he said. "It's not going to change my game or make me gun-shy. I'm sure the first shift I get back out there, I'm going to go racing toward the net. I miss playing hockey."

Seeing his consecutive game streak snapped at 257, Laich cracked, hurt almost as much his face.

"If I hadn't been healthy scratched by Glen [Hanlon] three years ago, I would have been somewhere around 400 games," he said. "It's almost a pride thing to play every single day, whether you're bumped and you're bruised, to play through it."

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