In his seven-plus seasons with the Capitals, Brooks Laich has never missed a game from an injury sustained in a game.
In fact, the only game action Laich has missed for the Caps came near the end of the 2009-10 season when John Carlsons shot in a practice bounced off the post and struck Laich in the cheek, forcing him to miss four games. The other 401 nights he's been clockwork.
That streak of good fortune, apparently, is about to end.
Barring divine intervention, Laich is expected to sit out Tuesday nights crucial Southeastern Division game against the Florida Panthers with what is believed to be a sprained left knee.
"He's day-to-day right now," Capitals coach Dale Hunter said after Monday's practice at Kettler Capitals Iceplex. "He's being evaulated right now and we'll see how he is (Tuesday)."
Hunter said Laich was walking on Monday and that his injury is "not major, so that's good news."
Laich's injury occurred with about 8:25 remaining in Sundays 4-1 loss to the Bruins when his left leg was pinned against the boards by Boston defenseman Dennis Seidenberg. Laich tried to come back but was in to much pain and left the Verizon Center in a knee brace.
"With Nicky (Backstrom) being out, we need him even more," Hunter said. "He's a warrior and he wants to play and that's what you like about guys like that. It creates an opportunity for other players to step up."
With Laich sidelined, the Caps went with the following forward lines at Mondays practice:
Alex Ovechkin-Marcus Johansson-Troy Brouwer
Jason Chimera-Mathieu Perreault-Alexander Semin
Matt Hendricks-Jeff Halpern-Joel Ward
Mike Knuble-Keith Aucoin-Jay Beagle
Brouwer said some players simply aren't replaceable and Laich is one of them.
"It's not like we can tell another guy to be a Brooks Laich," Brouwer said. "Guys have to try to pick up where he's missed. It's everyone cumulative responsibility. Halpy (Jeff Hapern) is going to have to take a couple more D-zone draws. Now we're going to need somebody on the penalty kill willing to block some shots and I know there are a lot of guys itching to do that. It shouldn't be too hard to look around the room and find guys who want to fill that void, especially at this time of year."
In other injury news, defenseman Mike Green (sports hernia surgery) did not skate for the third straight day and Nicklas Backstrom (concussion) remains sidelined with concussion symptoms. Hunter said both players are making progress but would not give time frames for either of them returning.
"(Green) is on track," Hunter said. "He's just working out in the gym. He's feeling better every day."
Meanwhile, Dmitry Orlov looked surprisingly unscathed after taking a puck in the nose for the second straight game. Orlov showed no swollenness around his eyes but said he had some difficulty breathing and would see a doctor on Monday afternoon. He practiced alongside Roman Hamrik.
"I didn't want to tell him that usually it comes in threes," joked Hunter. "It hurts a lot when you get hit in the nose. If you play hockey you're going to break your nose. That's part of the game and you have to accept it."
The Caps were beaten along the boards on several occasions on Sunday, which might explain why Mondays half-ice scrimmages were so spirited. Under the watchful eye of Hunter, Hendricks and Roman Hamrlik tussled after a battle drill in the corner, as did Beagle and Halpern.