You want one play to represent what it’s like to be Brooks Laich? Check out a 45-second shift in the second period Wednesday night when he was the catalyst in killing off a five-on-three power play.
“I remember getting on the ice, and I saw 1:20 left. Those are times when you want to be on the ice,” Laich said. “Those are times I take a lot of pride in.”
Off the faceoff, Laich’s stick broke.
“When a stick breaks, the first thing you do is accept it. The second thing you do is accept the fact that you’re basically reduced to shot-blocking, so you know that you’re going to go through a little bit of pain,” he said. “But you can’t fear it and you have to realize you’re on the ice to get a job done. You try to do the best you can. At that point, it’s all about survival and desperation.”
Laich got into passing and shooting lanes with his body, and when he had no other options skated over to Kyle Wellwood and ripped the stick out of his hands. He was lucky not to get a penalty for that, but did for a little dust-up with Nik Antropov in front of the net.
“There was just, really, almost a scuffle in front of the net. He’s a big guy, and he’s a focus on their team, and he was pushing some of our guys around, so I just wanted to get in there,” Laich said. “Obviously we were undermanned. I’ve had a bit of a history with him. We don’t really get along. That’s all it was – nothing major.”
With Laich in the box, his teammates – including noted not-penalty-killer Mathieu Perreault – got the job done. He was proud of that, and the response from the Capitals fans in attendance, who provided a roaring standing ovation.
“The fans appreciate hard work when you’re down five-on-three, and then we were able to kill off the five-on-four as well,” Laich said. “It’s definitely a turning point, and it’s a pick-up for us and it’s maybe a little bit deflating for them. I think they’re definitely crucial parts of a hockey game.”
It was a big part of setting a tone Wednesday night, and those are the kinds of shifts that win games and even playoff series. But Laich brushed off his heroic role in this kill.
“I don’t know how to explain it, because I try to stay really calm on it. You play for time and you try not to get out of position. You can’t run around and get too emotional or ramped up because then bad things happen,” he explained. “I really don’t see it as such a huge deal. It’s a tough thing to do, but it’s part of my job to do it.”
Read more about Brooks Laich’s jobs with the Caps and more here.