The Washington Times - May 8, 2013, 11:30AM

NEW YORK — Brooks Laich skated Wednesday morning with his Washington Capitals teammates at Madison Square Garden, the first time he has been on the ice since undergoing groin surgery in April.

Skating is a definite sign of progress but there was no immediate indication when he might be able to return to the Caps’ lineup.

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“Unsure right now,” Laich said. “I’ve got to get some good practices in first and absorb a little contact. But the team’s playing very well right now, so I don’t feel the need to rush it and certainly when I get back in I want to stay in.”

General manager George McPhee said recently Laich could be back by the second round, if not earlier He won’t play in Game 4 Wednesday night at the New York Rangers, and it sounds like he’s not going to rush back during this series.

“It is playoffs and I do want to play, but I’ve always said if I can help the team I’ll play, but I don’t feel like I’m at that point where I can physically help yet,” Laich said.

Laich was very limited in what he did Monday morning.

“Obviously he’s feeling a little better,” coach Adam Oates said. “He was out there skating and handling the puck. He’s still a little ways away.”

Laich said he skated a few times before Wednesday morning.

He missed the first 28 games of the season with a groin injury. He aggravated it April 4 and hasn’t played since.

Laich had surgery soon after. The general timeline for the operation is four to six weeks. Defenseman Mike Green played a month after his surgery last season.

“He’s worked hard to get back as quick as he has,” said Green, who added he’s done talking about injuries. “He’s still got a ways to go, but it’s good to see him skate.”

Laich denied that he had sports hernia surgery, which was confirmed by two sources with direct knowledge of the situation. The forward clarified that he had a procedure related to his groin.

He said he would address the situation after the season was over.