The Washington Times - January 31, 2013, 11:26AM

TORONTO | Brooks Laich skated with his Washington Capitals teammates Thursday morning at Air Canada Centre, the first time the injured forward has done so this season.

Laich, who suffered a groin injury while playing in Switzerland during the lockout, has spent some time skating solo. But the 29-year-old hasn’t been on ice with the Caps since the start of training camp.


I moved the puck, played with the puck a little bit,” Laich said. “It was pretty similar to what I’ve been doing, but a little more aggressive. It’s not game-like but making passes and adjusting to pucks in your feet and little stuff like that’s a little different.”

Laich could not make full stops and starts. And he’s obviously not in the lineup for Thursday night’s game at the Toronto Maple Leafs.

“He wants to play tonight, I’m sure,” coach Adam Oates said. “But we’ve got to be careful about it; we can’t set him back.”

He is on the nonroster list and can be activated any time. There’s no real timeline for Laich to return to game action.

I don’t know; I wake up feeling better every day,” Laich said. “The more I can get on the ice with the guys, the quicker it’ll be. As far as a timeline I can’t really tell you. I don’t have an exact date. But getting closer and closer every day.”

Laich said he would continue skating with his teammates back at the Caps practice facility after this road trip and that he had been on the ice consistently in the past few weeks. He said he would be able to take contact in practice, too, which could be seen as a sign of progress.

But given the way Laich was skating Thursday, it could still take some time to get in good enough shape to play.

He needs to probably, definitely, get a couple skates in and we can all now sit together and talk and [he can] get at the pace of the game,” Oates said.

Laich said surgery was not an option.