Brooks Laich was absent from the morning skate and will sit out Friday’s game against the Canadiens at Verizon Center with a lower-body injury after experiencing tightness over the past few days.
Laich skipped the morning skate Wednesday as well with the same issue, but played in Washington’s 6-4 loss to the Senators. That the problem has persisted, though, is concerning given the forward’s recent injury history. Laich missed all but nine games last season with a lingering groin problem that required surgery and then was limited during much of the preseason with a hip flexor injury. Friday night’s game will be the first he’s missed this season.
“He had a little tightness the other day, he played. He felt pretty good yesterday morning and then last night it was just a little tight. Hopefully just precautionary and nothing major there,” said Oates, who declined to say whether this is another groin problem for Laich. “From what I know about the body any type of injury can be a compensation from an original injury. Hopefully minor.”
Oates said he’s hopeful Laich will be back in the lineup Saturday when Washington will travel to face the New York Islanders. In the meantime, Jay Beagle will get back in the lineup for the first time since Oct. 16.
“He’s a great skater. We’re looking for a spark, he’s getting a chance and he’s been great about” sitting out, Oates said. “Hopefully he has a good night.”
Beagle’s appeared in only five games this season but against the Canadiens he’ll skate on the third line between veteran wingers Jason Chimera and Joel Ward which should help make the transition easier.
“They kind of play the style that I like to play, it should be fun,” Beagle said. “It’s easy to play with them, they’re easy to read. They play fast and work hard.”
>> Michal Neuvirth gets the start in goal against the Canadiens for the second time in a week. He made 28 saves in the Capitals’ 3-2 loss to Montreal on Nov. 22. The Canadiens will go with Peter Budaj, who also played when the two teams met last week finishing with 25 saves in the contest.
As for why the Capitals are going with Neuvirth tonight, Oates said it was a bit of a toss-up.
“Lotta reasons why it could have gone either direction,” Oates said. “You know what, Holts the other night you saw his reaction on the winning goal [by Ottawa’s Zack Smith on Wednesday]. I wanted to give him an extra day to think about it and regroup.”
>> Here are the projected lineups for both teams.
Daniel Briere-Tomas Plekanec-Brian Gionta
Max Pacioretty-David Desharnais-Brendan Gallagher
Alex Galchenyuk-Lars Eller-Brandon Prust
Travis Moen-Ryan White-Michael Bournival
Andrei Markov-P.K. Subban
Josh Gorges-Alexei Emelin
Francis Bouillon-Raphael Diaz
Peter Budaj is expected to start.