Brooks Laich and Mike Green are still recovering from groin injuries and will not play tonight against the Buffalo Sabres at Verizon Center [7 p.m., CSN], but both are going on the Capitals’ upcoming road trip and coach Adam Oates said he’s hopeful both will return to the lineup.
Laich has not played for the Caps since Game 7 of last year’s Eastern Conference semifinals but has been skating at top speed with the team since Tuesday.
“I’m very anxious,” Oates said about the return of Laich, which could come as early as Tuesday night in Pittsburgh.
“Obviously, we need him. He wants to play. We just have to make sure we all agree he’s not going to play two games and then set it back. We can’t afford that.”
That’s exactly what happened with Green when he returned from his groin injury. Green sat out three games from Feb. 17 to Feb. 23, returned for back-to-back games and aggravated the injury in the back end of those consecutive games. He’s now missed the last nine games.
“It’s similar to Brooks,” Oates said. “We need to get him in there where he doesn’t play three games.”
In other injury news, defenseman Tomas Kundraek skated on his own for about 10 minutes Sunday morning after sitting out Saturday’s game in Boston with an apparent knee injury.
Oates said Kunbdratek suffered a similar injury in his career and was relieved that an MRI showed no significant damage.
“I’m sure he was a little nervous,” Oates said. “Maybe skating today helps that a little bit, but we’ll see how it goes.”
John Erskine [upper body] was eligible to come off injured reserve on Sunday but oates said his injury has not healed enough to skate.
When Laich is able to return to the lineup Oates said he’ll likely break him in slowly and not on a top line with Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom.
Matt Hendricks has been taking most of those shifts in recent games, although Aaron Volpatti started there in Boston on Saturday.
Eventually, the plan is for Laich to play on the left side of that top line and provide some leadership in the locker room.
“Everybody tells me that,” Oates said. “I think just his positive influence and his intensity and what he brings on the ice is very needed.”
Chimmer snakebit: Jason Chimera joked on Friday that he might have to start burning incense in an attempt to change his luck. Chimera has gone 27 games without a goal, the longest stretch of his NHL career.
“I already talked to him tonight,” Oates said. “Last night he was directly or indirectly involved in six of our 11 chances in the game.
“That means you’re doing a lot of good things. Obviously, now he’s feeling real snakebit around the net, but he’s doing a lot for our team and we need that.”
All-Irish team: In honor of St. Patrick's Day, we've compiled our own All-Irish Capitals team. Feel free to add your own in the comments section below or tweet them out at #CapitalsTalk.
Craig [St.] Patrick [1976-79]
[Four] Leif [Clover] Svensson [1978-80]
Bob [Pot O'] Gould [1981-89]
Kelly [Green] Miller [1986-99]
Clint Malar[key]chuk [1987-89]
[Irish] Stew Malgunas [1995-99]
Donald [Erin Go] Bra-shear [2006-09]
Mike [Wearin' of the] Green [2005-present]
Alex O’Vechkin [2005-present]