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Brooks Laich ready to go against the Rangers

By Katie Carrera

Brooks Laich was on the ice at Madison Square Garden for the Capitals' morning skate and said he is ready to face the New York Rangers tonight after missing Monday's practice and being held out of the third period and overtime Sunday against the Philadelphia Flyers with an undisclosed upper-body injury.

"I'd like to leave what happened in that game behind," Laich said. "I felt good today, felt good on the ice and I'm excited to play again tonight. I don't think we have to worry about what happened last game."

--Coach Bruce Boudreau said "we'll see" when asked about Tom Poti's status for this matchup against the Rangers. Poti (groin) stayed out for extra work, so he may not be quite ready to make his return yet.

--David Steckel took part in the usual scratches skate, so it appears that D.J. King will be back in the lineup and able to get reacquainted with his old sparring partner Derek Boogaard. According to hockeyfights.com, King and Boogaard have squared off four times previously -- but they did see much more of each other when playing for St. Louis and Minnesota, respectively.

--Boudreau also confirmed that Michal Neuvirth will start in net for the Capitals tonight.

--At 12:30 p.m., join me here for a live video chat.


By Katie Carrera  | November 9, 2010; 12:13 PM ET
Categories:  Brooks Laich, D.J. King, David Steckel, Injuries, New York Rangers  
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Comments

My predictions for tonights game:

Boogard KOs DJ King

Caps 5 - Rangers 2

Posted by: chrisclarksucks | November 9, 2010 12:21 PM | Report abuse

^only one fight?

yeah, i think the rangers will dominate the fighting, though.

is it lundqvist in net tonight for the rags?

Posted by: j762 | November 9, 2010 12:39 PM | Report abuse

Let's make tonight five in a row and stay on top the East. It fun watching the Caps right now. Hope they keep it up through May.

Posted by: instinct227 | November 9, 2010 12:41 PM | Report abuse

j762,

Yes, Hank is in net tonight per leftwinglock.com

Posted by: Steve_R | November 9, 2010 12:44 PM | Report abuse

I want to see someone punch Avery in the babymaker.

Posted by: sca187 | November 9, 2010 12:46 PM | Report abuse

sca187,

That might be more likely if the Rags were playing the Pens.

Posted by: Steve_R | November 9, 2010 12:52 PM | Report abuse

@sca187

everyone wants to see that...my guess is even some of the players ON the Rangers team want to see that :)

Glad Stecks is finally getting scratched. I want to see Laich play more agressively if he is feeling ok. I just have not been really noticing him on the ice as much as I did last season. I am sure BB is on it...he knows Brooks and what a hard worker he is. Last time Brooks had a slump BB had the staff put together a bunch of film on what he was doing both right and wrong and he responded almost immediately.

Posted by: capscoach | November 9, 2010 12:58 PM | Report abuse

Apologies for the thread comment continuation:

@Phil,

You're right about the appearance of the timing, certainly.

I wonder just how much of this is a question of personal maturity. He really is just a young guy.

Of course, the line between internally-inspired maturation and listening to all the various "mentors" and people giving advice - and deciding what weight to give to each - is a fine one. Being an offensively-gifted d-man may actually be a challenging position, professionally speaking, for a host of reasons.

I know you and I tend to come down on different sides of the debate as to whether WE GUESS Boudreau's influence is overall positive or negative: I tend to surmise that what is said publicly is not the entirety of the message. (Indeed, I even read some of Boudreau's public comments differently. Perhaps I'm being too forgiving.)

Long story endless: I'm glad he's focusing more on that which clearly comes less naturally to him.

Posted by: stevie_in_gp | November 9, 2010 1:02 PM | Report abuse

Last time Brooks had a slump BB had the staff put together a bunch of film on what he was doing both right and wrong and he responded almost immediately because Semin rejoined the lineup

Fixed that for you.

Posted by: ablake70 | November 9, 2010 1:03 PM | Report abuse

Avery would retaliate with a swing of his designer purse. I'm pretty sure that guy has ZERO friends. He's a decent hockey player (when he's not being dirty), but not a decent person...

I'm wondering if Laich actually got benched and they just called it an "upper-body injury"? I'm thinking he might go out and have a h*ll of a game tonight...

Posted by: sca187 | November 9, 2010 1:08 PM | Report abuse

@ablake

I am sure Semin's return helped a lot, but lets give Brooks some credit...he is known for his incredible work ethic and he was having real issues going to the net which he SAID he did not realize until he saw the video...it is one thing to hear it from coaches, but another to see it on film.

Posted by: capscoach | November 9, 2010 1:11 PM | Report abuse

stevie_in_gp,

I know I don't always have the kindest things to say about BB or GMGM (to put it lightly) but I really think BB had absolutely nothing to do with Green becoming more responsibly defensively. I give you credit on bringing up Woods as he may have certainly had an impact but I think it was more Green taking the bull by the horns and working on it himself......which is just great to see!

@capscoach,

I really think ablake70 is on point with his comment about Laich needing Semin on that 2nd line to be a scoring threat. He is a true defensive forward IMO that BB has made into one that can put up numbers offensively as well (see I gave BB some credit there!) I would much rather he center a shut down 3rd line for this team and see Fehr on the second where he belongs.....of course I have beaten this dead horse to dust in the past!

Posted by: PhilR | November 9, 2010 1:11 PM | Report abuse

On Brooks Laich:

Is it me or does his play just go back to last season. Ever since he got hit in the face by the puck in practice, he was never really the same after that. Since then his aggressive play in front of the net and thus his scoring have definitely gone down. Last year after the incident his defensive game was good still. The last few games he's just been missing.

Posted by: ThePat | November 9, 2010 1:15 PM | Report abuse

@PhilR

I don't really see Laich as a scoring threat...he does not have the hands for it, but when he plays correctly he is very valuable to guys like Semin by redirecting shots, screening the goalie, and making space in front of the net...His #s go up b/c he plays with Semin, but I think he also helps players like Semin and Flash or Ovie (not that he plays with the gr8) with their numbers as well...he also is pretty solid on D which is needed on the those top lines to protect the hot shots when they forget that they have to play D too.

Posted by: capscoach | November 9, 2010 1:16 PM | Report abuse

@thepat

I am pretty confdent that Laich will figure it out sooner than later...he is just too good a player (work ethic wise) to not improve

Whoever said that maybe Laich was benched in the 3rd...I thought the same thing. He supposedly was asking to go back out and his comments about not wanting to think about the last game tell me that maybe it was more than just health (though I think he was hurt at least a bit)

Posted by: capscoach | November 9, 2010 1:20 PM | Report abuse

@PhilR -- why not give BB some credit? He's obviously been preaching defense from before the start of the season. Credit Woods and Greenie for Green's improved puck handling and agility on both ends of the ice, but BB is the boss and I'd say his focus on D and the PK have paid dividends regardless of what his D and special teams coaches are doing.

Posted by: Justafan | November 9, 2010 1:24 PM | Report abuse

@justafan

I def. agree that BB has been pushing better D and PK. The team really struggled balancing the D with O in the beggining, but they are starting to get the hang of it. Right now they are starting to revert a bit back to what they were before which I expected, but I think they will find the balance over the next month or so.

Posted by: capscoach | November 9, 2010 1:27 PM | Report abuse

@Justafan,

You are coming in on the backend of a discussion that began on the last thread. Maybe go back and read those comments and you will see more where I am coming from as I don't want to re-post all that stuff.

Posted by: PhilR | November 9, 2010 1:30 PM | Report abuse

@capscoach

I have no doubt Laich will turn it around. And I am the one that said I thought he was benched or deserved to be. I think him and Knuble both have good games and get going this week at some point.

Posted by: ThePat | November 9, 2010 1:32 PM | Report abuse

@PhilR

I agree, Laich's skill set is more suited for a 3rd line role. He would be an outstanding 3rd line player.

I also think moving Knuble(as he is a pure RW) to the 3rd linea and moving Fehr up to the 2nd line might be a good idea. Knuble is very good defensively, is a good forechecker who is willing to cycle too. Knuble playing with BGordon(when healthy) and Chimera could be a very good checking line. Having Chimera as the LW is very helpful because it adds the element of speed to that line. Chimera's speed enables him, and the line, to get the puck into the opposing team's offensive zone easier.

Posted by: sgm3 | November 9, 2010 1:32 PM | Report abuse

@capsc and Justa,

Yeeeaahhh, 14 games does not a season make. I do want to see if they can keep this emphasis up (as you point out and hope as well). I'm just skeptical until I see it extended on out.

(And putting on a hat I used to wear, SHOULD the above happen, some credit must go to Boudreau, Phil: the leader/manager-o'-people is responsible for all that goes on under his watch, good and bad. If that happens in SPITE of BB, then it's up to his boss to correct/replace him. I know: that's what you see and that's what you want.)

Posted by: stevie_in_gp | November 9, 2010 1:37 PM | Report abuse

Laich scored 25 last year. He was in top 50 or 60 in league for goals. While he may be beter suited to shutdown roles, he is a legit scoring threat.

Posted by: tominsocal1 | November 9, 2010 1:38 PM | Report abuse

I've always thought Laich lived more on reputation than actual play. He is a hard worker but I always get the impression that he's working harder at being a finesse player than a grinder. He's never been a consistent net prescence, hence the need for Knuble, not very physical, and his defensive game is overrated.

I agree with ThePat that Laich has looked a little timid since taking that puck to the face. I also think his contract status is having an effect on his play. Laich knows better numbers = more dollars. I think Laich would make a good 3rd line winger, but that's not going to get him much of a raise.

Posted by: ablake70 | November 9, 2010 1:41 PM | Report abuse

I don't mind the BB bashing but, also give him credit when the changes work. The team has shifted to a defense first style and BB should get all the credit. He now understands "run & gun" get you run out of the playoffs!
Laich was hurt last game & I'm glad he is back. Now if Poti & Goatlender get back we will have a full squad. I'm looking forward to that. Stamkos gets asked about his nickname on a puck daddy interview. I can't wait for Varly's interview:
Interviewer: "Varly, how did you get the nickname-goatlender?"
Varly: "Ummm, hold on let me find Semin to translate that question..."
Semin: "Sorry, we don't speak English."

Posted by: chriscaps | November 9, 2010 1:41 PM | Report abuse

@capscoach

I hate to have to always disagree with you, but Im with PhilR on this. Fehr would bring more for a player like Semin than Laich would...just like Laich would bring more as a 3rd line center than he does as 2nd line wing.

Quite frankly, Semin needs someone with a bit more skill/passing ability to create space, rather than someone to knock in rebounds. Lets face it, Semin is either missing the net or he picks a corner. And as you mentioned, Laich isnt a "scoring threat"...but isnt that what we want on our 2nd line? Laich plays pretty sound defensively, hence he would make a solid choice at 3C. Fehr has great hands, speed AND is a big body that can screen well (and of course roof any shot that happens to hit the goalie and is there to knock in)...that screams 2nd line wing if you ask me.

Posted by: SeminAllOverTheIce | November 9, 2010 1:43 PM | Report abuse

To those that are saying I am BB bashing for not giving credit about the change in defense first style this year you are coming in on a carryover post from the last thread!

I am specifically syaing he should not get credit for Green's newfound defensive prowess as that began in the middle of last season when he got snubbed from Team Canada. The guy took it upon himself to improve the defensive side of his game and obviously worked his ass off in the offseason.

And I still remember BB compplaining that he wasn't putting up OFFENSIVE numbers at the end of last year when he was obviously working on his D game. Hence I give him no credit for Green's defensvie development.

Posted by: PhilR | November 9, 2010 1:59 PM | Report abuse

Brooks...ur, Tom

Laich scored 11PP goals last year, gets 1st unit PP time, and plays 18+ minutes per game. I think Laich has better hands than the average grinder, but I also think Chimera would have similar stats if he got Laich's ice time. Like Knuble, I think Laich's only a scoring threat with the big guns.

Also, for those praising BB for our PK: it's been sinking like a rock as the season has progressed.

Posted by: ablake70 | November 9, 2010 2:02 PM | Report abuse

Laich has much better hands than Chimera, that's why he gets first line PP time and Chimera gets no PP time!

Posted by: boomer44 | November 9, 2010 2:53 PM | Report abuse

@ablake70

But the PK is still much better than last year.

In terms of Laich, I would prefer him as a 3rd line LW and keep BGordon as 3rd line center. Having your checking line center excelling at faceoffs is important because of the # of defensive zone faceoffs the line is likely to take.

Posted by: sgm3 | November 9, 2010 2:56 PM | Report abuse

@orrCountry

agreed on Weber! There should be a ceremony he was terrific for the team, more important to them than they'll ever realize. They made it exciting to listen to one of the worst sports teams ever. Great write up in the link back in the earlier thread...

Posted by: RedLitYogi | November 9, 2010 3:00 PM | Report abuse

@ sgm3


To my eyes, the Caps PK has reverted back to last year. They have gone back to the passive approach of collapsing the box instead of challenging the points. Guys are standing around again, which has caused the PK % to drop.

boomer44-Fehr has better hands than Laich and Chimera but doesn't get any 1st unit PP time. Sometimes, the 1st unit is Ovi-Green-Backs-Laich-Knuble! Where's Semin? Or even Flash, if Knuble is handling net crashing duties? Does make sense.

Posted by: ablake70 | November 9, 2010 3:37 PM | Report abuse

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