Laich declares his health at 100%
Brooks Laich was the fourth forward on the Capitals’ second line on Monday but despite playing in just one preseason game, he said his left hip flexor is “100 percent” and he’s ready to play in the Caps’ season opener Tuesday night in Chicago.
“I’m in,” Laich said after Monday’s practice. “October 1 was the date I circled to be ready for. I would have liked to have a couple more exhibition games, but I felt great out there today and I’m in as far as I know.
“It’s their call but 100 percent I feel great and I’m ready to go.”
Capitals coach Adam Oates smiled when he was told Laich said he’s playing.
“If he says so, I guess,” Oates said. “ I’ll check with Smitty [athletic trainer Greg Smith] and if he’s ready to go he’ll play.”
Laich, who missed all but nine games last season with groin problems, skated as a fourth forward on a line that had center Mikhail Grabovski, left wing Marty Erat and right wing Troy Brouwer.
If Laich plays Tuesday night in Chicago he’s like to take Erat’s place at left wing, with Erat dropping to third-line center with Eric Fehr and Joel Ward. If that happens, Jason Chimera would probably slide to a fourth line and Aaron Volpatti would be a healthy scratch.
“It’s been a tough year but I’ve learned a lot, did a lot of work to get where I am. I just wanted to feel healthy on the ice and today I felt great and was able to do everything I wanted. Big smile today and ready to play tomorrow.”
Here are the line combinations and defense pairings used by Oates on Monday:
Marcus Johansson – Nicklas Backstrom – Alex Ovechkin
Brooks Laich/Marty Erat – Mikhail Grabovski – Troy Brouwer
Jason Chimera – Eric Fehr – Joel Ward
Aaron Volpatti – Jay Beagle – Tom Wilson
Extra: Michael Latta
Karl Alzner – Mike Green
John Erskine – John Carlson
Jack Hillen – Steve Oleksy
Extra: Connor Carrick
Braden Holtby – Michal Neuvirth
Oates left open the possibility that Carrick will play ahead of Steve Oleksy on the Caps' third defense unit.