- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 7, 2012

More than any other Washington Capitals player, Brooks Laich shrugs off injuries and wants to stay on the ice.

“I love to play hockey. It’s what I want to do,” he said. “If you can’t do it that day, it’s disappointing and upsetting.”

So when Laich suffered a left knee injury Sunday and couldn’t skate Monday, his teammates didn’t believe his claim of getting right back out there Tuesday.

“We were all just laughing at him because he’s hobbling around,” defenseman Karl Alzner said.

But there was Laich at Tuesday’s morning skate, in full equipment looking like nothing was wrong. He might even play Tuesday night against the Florida Panthers in a game with first place in the Southeast Division on the line, though he and coach Dale Hunter weren’t ready to declare him in for sure.

Laich gave it the old “We’ll see.”

“For myself, I’m preparing to play,” he said. “I want to play every game. And especially tonight could be the most important game of our year — a team that we have to beat.”

Hunter said the Caps “have to see what it feels like in five, six hours.” Naturally, the thing Laich was most worried about was convincing the staff to let him play.

A doctor visit Monday turned out “very positive,” though that’s where convincing Laich was the bigger deal.

“I didn’t even really want to go. But the trainers’ job sometimes are protect you from yourself,” he said. “They insisted on it. Everything was what we thought it was, and it was very positive.”

Laich sure sounded like a guy who was going to play against the Panthers, possibly because he can’t make the left knee injury worse. He took rushes on the fourth line, but Jay Beagle did extra work after practice, a duty usually reserved for scratched players.

But Hunter cautioned that, if need be, “Beags is ready to go. We just give him a little extra; not much.”

It likely won’t come to that, unless Laich’s knee swells up during the afternoon or early evening. Obviously a decision could be made just before game time, but the 28-year-old has missed only four games with injury during his NHL career.

“As a part of a team, I think everybody wants to be in every game,” Laich said. “I’m the same way. It’s something I take a lot of pride in, actually.”

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