Laich's injury a growing concern for Caps

Laich's injury a growing concern for Caps
December 2, 2013, 1:00 pm
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Caps top 5 plays of the week: 12.2.13

Monday was not a good news day for the Capitals’ walking wounded.

First, the team placed goaltender Michal Neuvirth, who injured his lower body on Friday by stepping on a puck during pre-game warmups, on injured reserve, sidelining him until at least Saturday.

Then, defenseman Jack Hillen met the media on a pair of crutches and confirmed he needed a plate and five screws to reassemble his broken right leg and that he faces months of rehabilitation. [We'll have more on that story later today].

Then came news that Brooks Laich’s lower body injury likely is related to the abdominal surgery he underwent last season and that he will miss his third straight game Tuesday night against the Carolina Hurricanes.

Asked if Laich could be heading down the same path as last season, when he missed all but nine games, Capitals coach Adam Oates said, “I’ve been told no, so I hope not. I think it’s all related.”

[RELATED: Second thoughts on Caps' amazing comeback vs. NYI]

Laich last skated on Wednesday night in the Caps’ 6-4 loss to the Ottawa Senators, scoring his fourth goal of the season.

“We’re almost talking the same exact questions and answers from last year,” Oates said. “Hopefully, it’s not. Hopefully, it’s just -- I don’t know how say it correctly -- scar tissue or something. Hopefully, it’s minor and it’s not ongoing. We’re going to do our best to make sure it doesn’t get aggravated and it’s not continuous.”

With Laich out of the lineup Oates has used center Mikhail Grabovski on a second line with wingers Eric Fehr and Troy Brouwer, and center Jay Beagle on a third line with wingers Jason Chimera and Joel Ward. Beagle sat out 18 straight games before getting into the lineup on Friday.

“He’s played two great games,” Oates said. “He skates great; we’ve always known that, and I’ve asked him to do other things and he’s been working on that since he’s been out. He looks very calm out there, quite honestly. Under control with his skating. There are times you’ve got to slow down and I think he’s recognizing that.”

Wilson to stay: Team Canada has invited Capitals 19-year-old rookie Tom Wilson to play in the World Junior Hockey Championships in Malmo, Sweden Dec. 25 through Jan. 5 but the Capitals have elected to keep Wilson on their NHL roster.

"The reason behind not sending Wilson to World Juniors is that he means too much to our team and it's best for his development to stay with the Capitals," Capitals general manager George McPhee said in a statement.

Wilson has played in all 27 games for the Caps this season and has one goal, three assists and a team-high 53 penalty minutes while averaging 7:10 in ice time.   

Capitals prospects Madison Bowey and Chandler Stephenson were not among those invited to represent Team Canada.