The Washington Times - March 17, 2013, 12:10PM

Brooks Laich is close to returning from a groin injury that has cost him more than half the Washington Capitals’ season. He wanted to play Sunday night against the Buffalo Sabres, but the training staff is holding him back.

“I’m feeling good on the ice and I’m getting really anxious to play,” Laich said Sunday morning. “I’m sure it’ll be very, very soon.”

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The Caps visit the Pittsburgh Penguins on Tuesday then play back-to-back at the Winnipeg Jets on Thursday and Friday. It sounds like Laich could make his season debut during this road trip, though he can’t make any promises.

“The training staff and coaches really have a plan. Obviously I’m involved in it, too. It just sort of goes day-to-day,” Laich said. “We want to make sure that when I am back that I’m able to contribute and that we’re not going to set ourselves back or hinder the team or anything.”

Asked about targeting a certain day, Laich said: “In my mind it’s sooner than later. I’m really getting the itch, really wanting to get back in the lineup.”

Laich originally suffered the groin injury in November while playing in Switzerland during the NHL lockout. He has been on the nonroster list since the lockout ended.

Laich first skated with teammates Jan. 31 but stopped after a practice Feb. 16. He went back to doing that March 11 and reported feeling better.

At this point he’s adhering to the plan.

“The plan that was set forth was get back on the ice, get comfortable on the ice and then get aggressive on the ice and then maintain that aggression,” Laich said. “And not have any sort of pain or discomfort come back where my performance would drop off. That’s not something you can do in just two or three days.”

It hasn’t been that many days, but after a hard skate Friday at Boston University’s Agganis Arena and another informal workout with coaches Saturday at TD Garden, Laich is past the maintaining aggression stage.

“I’m in the pushing the envelope,” Laich said. “I feel like I’m ready to play.”

Laich did stops and starts, turns and explosions over the past few days.

“Now we just have to make sure that we stay comfortable and stay aggressive with the skating and able to maintain that level every day and not have that performance decline,” he said. “So far I’ve done so, so I’m hoping to be back in the lineup very quickly.”