NEW YORK – Sidelined since April 4 with what is believed to be a groin injury, Capitals left wing Brooks Laich skated for more than an hour with his teammates on Wednesday at Madison Square Garden.
“I’ve got to get some good practices in first and absorb a little contact,” Laich said. “But the team’s playing very well right now so I don’t feel the need to rush it. Certainly, when I get back in I want to stay in.”
Laich, 29, has missed all but nine games this season with groin problems and would likely need a week of hard skating and practicing before returning to the Caps’ lineup.
In other words, it’s unlikely Laich would be cleared to return to the lineup before this first-round series ends. Game 7, if necessary, is scheduled for Monday night in Washington.
Laich disputed recent reports that he had sports hernia surgery in mid-April but would not confirm or deny that he had some type of surgery.
“The reports aren’t entirely accurate,” Laich said. “I didn’t have a sports hernia. I didn’t have sports hernia surgery. But I don’t want to focus on that right now. It’s a game day and the guys are prepared to play a hockey game. Maybe sometime at the end of the season we’ll address that, but for right now our focus is to be solely on the team.”
In nine games for the Caps from March 19 through April 4, Laich had one goal, three assists and averaged 16:32 of ice time. The Caps went 6-2-1 in that stretch to move into playoff contention.
Laich said he did not feel 100 percent when he played in those nine games and is trying to stay away from setting return dates this time around.
“I actually had a game in mind for this series that I sort of had circled and I said I wasn’t going to do it before because it creates frustration when you don’t make that timeline,” he siad. “I did it again and it doesn’t look like I’m going to hit it, so I’ve got to stop doing that. Today was a positive day to be able to skate and get some work it. It was very positive.”
Capitals defenseman Mike Green has sports hernia surgery last season and returned to the lineup 33 days later.
“He's worked hard to get back as quick as he has,” Green said. “He's still got a ways to go but it's good to see him skate.”