After making his first appearance in the lineup Monday in nearly a month, Brooks Laich will be back in the press box Friday night as the Capitals host the New York Rangers.
Laich experienced a setback with his lingering groin injury after playing 13:23 in a 3-2 loss to the Anahiem Ducks on Dec. 23. Prior to that contest, Laich missed 11 straight games with the groin problem which held him out of all but nine games last season and ultimately required abdominal surgery.
“I’m kind of in a holding pattern right now,” said Laich, who said he had discomfort the morning after the loss to Anaheim.
“I don’t think anything happened in the game to set him back, it was the next morning he was a little achy,” Coach Adam Oates said. “It’s disappointing because George [McPhee] and I met with him that morning and he said he felt 100 percent contact, conditioning, everything. I think in his mind he did feel that way. You watch him today he looked good but there’s still something that’s not correct in his mind.”
Laich, 30, took part in the morning skate in Arlington Friday and didn’t appear to have any limitation. But the Capitals don’t want to risk causing further damage.
“He had a full practice and he was flying, but something doesn’t feel quite right even though he can go out there pretty good,” Oates said. “We don’t wan to risk hurting it, whatever that is.”
Oates said Laich will meet with the team’s doctors Friday and gauge where to go next. This is expected to be a constant evaluation process, where simply making it through a practice won’t be enough to signal confidence in Laich’s ability to get back in the lineup but he will need to still feel healthy the next day as well.
At this point it’s too early to say whether Laich might play in back to back road games at Buffalo and Ottawa Sunday and Monday.
“I think it’s going to be an ongoing thing,” Oates said. “We’re going to monitor it all the time until it either gets away totally, gets out of his head totally. But we just don’t want to set him back.”