PITTSBURGH | Brooks Laich is back. And while he’ll start Tuesday night on the Washington Capitals’ fourth line against the Pittsburgh Penguins, don’t tell Laich he’s getting eased in.
“I’m going to throw myself in there sort of baptism by fire. I’m not taking any time to get myself back to game shape,” he said. “I need to play and I need to contribute right now. That’s the situation we’re in. We don’t have the luxury of taking the time to get back into form. I’m expected to do certain things when I’m on the ice. Anything less than that is unacceptable.”
Anything less than at least 27 points the rest of the way would be unacceptable if the Caps are to make the playoffs. Laich wants to play a major role in everything that happens in the final 20 games.
So expect the 29-year-old forward to see some penalty-killing time Tuesday night, and he might even get some power-play minutes too.
“I’ve been in on the video sessions for quite a while here,” Laich said. “Get a look at what were doing and what we’re trying to accomplish I think I can help out in those areas. It’s up to [coach Adam Oates] if he feels comfortable using me. My game, I’m used to playing in those situations so I hope I can get some minutes in in those situations.”
It wouldn’t be stunning if Laich finds himself off the fourth line alongside Jay Beagle and Matt Hendricks and up on the top line before Tuesday’s game is over.
“He’s been a top-six guy, having the ability to fill those minutes are obviously very important for the whole trickle-down,” Oates said.
Here’s a look at the lineup the Caps will start with:
Marcus Johansson – Nicklas Backstrom – Alex Ovechkin
Eric Fehr – Mike Ribeiro – Troy Brouwer
Jason Chimera – Mathieu Perreault – Joel Ward
Matt Hendricks - Brooks Laich - Jay Beagle
Karl Alzner – Steve Oleksy
Jack Hillen – John Carlson
Jeff Schultz – Dmitry Orlov
Healthy scratches: Joey Crabb, Aaron Volpatti, Wojtek Wolski
IR: Mike Green, Tomas Kundratek, John Erskine, Jeff Schultz