The Washington Times - February 8, 2013, 11:16PM

There’s still no definitive timetable for Washington Capitals forward Brooks Laich to make his season debut after suffering a groin injury, and the outlook for defensemen Dmitry Orlov and Jack Hillen isn’t much better.

Laich, who has been skating with the Caps and testing out his groin, cannot return too fast and make things worse.

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“Just hoping he can get in the lineup soon. It’d be nice to have him,’ general manager George McPhee said. “Certainly Brooks would be a big help right now, but we’ll have to wait a little bit longer. He’s improving and hopefully we’ll see him soon.”

How soon is not clear. Coach Adam Oates said this week that he knows from experience how finicky groin injuries can be.

Orlov is still with the Hershey Bears, the Caps’ American Hockey League affiliate, after suffering his upper-body injury Dec. 6. Only recently did the young defenseman begin skating again and he’s not close to game action.

“He’s coming along,” McPhee said. “Probably, I was told a week ago it might be another month.”

Hillen, who suffered what the team is calling an upper-body injury when his left shoulder slammed into the boards after a hit from Tampa Bay Lightning center Vinny Lecavalier in the season opener, did not provide any kind of update last week when asked of his condition.

The news isn’t good.

“That one’s going to be longer. That’s still another probably 6-8 weeks,” McPhee said. “That’s a significant injury.”

Hillen is on injured reserve but not the long-term variety that would take his cap hit off the books. But that’s not necessary.

“We don’t need the cap space,” McPhee said. “We’re at, I think, $62 [million] and you can go to $70 [million] this year.”

Defenseman Tom Poti is considered day-to-day after being boarded by Toronto Maple Leafs forward Leo Komarov on Tuesday and suffering an upper-body injury. His status for Saturday night’s game against the Florida Panthers was not immediately clear.