PITTSBURGH | Brooks Laich did not practice with his Washington Capitals teammates the day after making his season debut after missing 28 games with a groin injury. It was a maintenance day for Laich, something he said was the plan all along.
Laich did off-ice strengthening exercises instead of skating.
“No red flags, no setbacks,” he said. “Felt pretty good last night and I’m very optimistic right now.”
Laich played 12:51 in Tuesday night’s loss at the Pittsburgh Penguins, earning a promotion to the second line after one shift. He reported feeling “pretty good” afterward, and coach Adam Oates was not concerned about overextending the 29-year-old.
“I didn’t sleep real well last night because I was kind of concerned that maybe it wouldn’t be,” Laich said Wednesday afternoon. “But I woke up this morning and actually felt pretty good.”
Wojtek Wolski took line rushes with the second line in Laich’s place, changing out of a black fifth-line jersey early in practice. Wolski has been a healthy scratch in four straight games and five of the past six and could be again Thursday at the Winnipeg Jets.
Joel Ward, who didn’t play a shift after his turnover that led to the Penguins’ game-winning goal Tuesday night, was demoted to the fourth line.
On defense, Mike Green went through drills alongside Karl Alzner. He also did some work with the first power-play unit. He said he’s ready to play.
“This is taking the safe route,” Green said. “At some point you’ve got to make a decision, and [Thursday] I’m ready.”
Oates was less definitive about Green playing, saying there will be more discussions before a decision is made.
Green has missed 10 straight games with a groin injury and 13 of the past 15. If he’s able to return in Winnipeg or Sunday at the New York Rangers, it figures that either Jeff Schultz, Dmitry Orlov or Steve Oleksy will come out of the lineup.
Here’s a look at the lines from Wednesday’s practice:
Marcus Johansson - Nicklas Backstrom - Alex Ovechkin
Wojtek Wolski - Mike Ribeiro - Troy Brouwer
Jason Chimera - Mathieu Perreault - Eric Fehr
Matt Hendricks - Jay Beagle - Joel Ward
Aaron Volpatti - Joey Crabb
Karl Alzner - Mike Green
Jack Hillen - John Carlson
Jeff Schultz / Dmitry Orlov / Steve Oleksy