Updated 12:54 p.m. Brooks Laich was on the ice Thursday morning working out with the goaltenders for roughly 15-20 minutes, marking the first time that he’s skated with teammates in any capacity since he last played on Nov. 27. It’s his second consecutive day on the ice and third time overall in that two-week span but Coach Adam Oates doesn’t want the forward to fool himself or try to rush a return.
“I didn’t watch him because it’s not a practice and I don’t want to get my hopes up or think team until he skates with the team. We went through this too many times last year and he said to me yesterday, ‘I want to go to Florida and practice with you’. I said, ‘Well if you can’t skate tomorrow for five minutes, no.’ He went out there and I think we’ve all decided he’s not going to go [to Florida] because he needs to be able to get some practices in. We just don’t want to be teased and we don’t want to put him int hat position himself to maybe rush it to get there.”
Laich, who has missed six consecutive games, headed off to the dressing room as formal practice began, and there remains no timetable for when he will be able to return to the lineup. Given the length of time Laich’s missed, whenever he does start working out with the team he will need several full practices before Oates will consider him ready to get back into game action.
“He’s a very well conditioned athlete, no question, but still it takes your timing,” Oates said. “You feel great, you miss time, you want to get in and we want all our bodies but we’ve got to put in the right perspective.”
>> All three goaltenders, Braden Holtby, Michal Neuvirth and Philipp Grubauer, are on the ice for practice. Coach Adam Oates should provide an update on which netminders will make the trip to Florida with the team Thursday afternoon. Neuvirth remains on injured reserve after slipping on a puck and injuring his right ankle back on Nov. 29 but can be activated at any time.
>> Defenseman John Erskine, who has been out with an knee injury since late October, continues to take part in the team’s practices. The veteran defenseman said he hopes to get back in a game soon, more on that a little later today.
>> The lineup in Thursday’s practice looks as it did against the Lightning earlier in the week.
Erskine, Urbom working in as extras