On Erat: "You've got to do what you've got to do"
The Capitals hit the ice at Kettler Capitals Iceplex this morning without center Brooks Laich, who, according to a team spokesperson, is “being cautious” with a lower body injury.
“Just a little maintenance this morning,” Capitals coach Adam Oates said. “He should be fine tonight.”
The Capitals face the Ottawa Senators tonight at Verizon Center [7 p.m., CSN].
Laich, 30, missed all but nine games last season with a groin-related injury. In 24 games this season he has just three goals and two assists and is a team-worst minus-10.
With three games in the next four nights, Oates said he will be cautious with Laich’s ice time tonight.
“The games on the weekend [last Friday and Saturday] he was pretty banged up, played hard, a lot of minutes,” Oates said. “”He practiced fine yesterday, just precautionary.”
Without Laich on the ice, center Jay Beagle took turns with Marty Erat on a third line with left wing Jason Chimera and right wing Joel Ward.
Erat has been unhappy with his playing time and has asked for a trade. Beagle has been a healthy scratch 17 straight games.
“It’s a concern,” Chimera said when asked about Laich. “There are always guys willing to fill the shoes of guys. [Laich] is a competitor, so he’ll do anything to get ready to play.”
Backstrom said he understands the difficulty Laich has had since returning to the lineup. He also missed extensive time two seasons ago with a concussion.
“It takes a little time,” Backstrom said. “He was off all last year and it takes a little time for the rhythm and for the feel out there. He’s a hard-working guy and he plays in all situations. You always know what you get from Brooks. He has a great work ethic out there.”
Laich has not missed a game this season and by all indications he will try to play three games in four nights. If not, Chimera said he would have no problem lining up beside Erat, who on Monday confirmed he has twice asked general maanger George McPhee to trade him.
“It’s something we deal with every trade deadline,” Chimera said. “You see guys’ names on the ticker. It’s not awkward. It’s a different situation. It happens in sports and you deal with it. When he gets in there, he’s not going to play any less hard.”