Laich has been hampered by a lingering groin injury for two years now and his ongoing quest to find a remedy – both through surgery and alternative methods – has been well documented, but problems persist. In the past week, Laich has skated with his teammates only once outside of a game and his absence at Pittsburgh marks the second contest in the past four that he will miss.
Asked if Laich experienced a setback, Coach Adam Oates said the decision for him to travel now was about timing, seeing as the Capitals don’t play again until Friday.
Laich initially suffered the injury while he was playing in Switzerland during the NHL lockout in 2012. He sat out all but nine games in the Capitals’ lockout-shortened campaign last year and ultimately underwent abdominal surgery in April 2013. Brunt, who has tended to numerous Capitals over the years, performed that procedure. Laich has missed 17 contests this season, including Tuesday’s game, because of the groin ailment.
Following Washington’s win over Phoenix on Saturday, Laich acknowledged he wasn’t completely healthy but sounded determined to play through the injury if he could help the Capitals in their postseason push.
“I’m not 100 percent,” Laich said. “When I’m in the lineup, I expect to do some good things, and if I feel I can help the team, I’ll be in the lineup. If I feel like a detriment, I won’t.”