As if the NHL season was not screwy enough with the lock-out, the Washington Capitals have been in an uphill battle all season. Key forward Brooks Laich has missed all season with a groin injury suffered during the lock-out. According to Katie Carrera of the Washington Post, tonight will skate with his teammates for the first time all season. The timing for this couldn’t be any more perfect with the Pittsburgh Penguins on the schedule for tonight.
Laich is a top-six forward who plays all shifts (even strength, short handed and power play). The Capitals have struggled this season to find chemistry in the top two lines, often using the likes of Matt Hendricks, Jason Chimera, Marcus Johannson and Wojtek Wolski. While it will take Brooks a few games to get his feet under him, he should help out with the teams struggling defense and penalty kill instantly.
With the team only seven points out of a playoff spot and also only 7 points out of first place in the southeast division, every game from here on out will be important. There are only 20 games left in this lockout-shortened year, so the team will essentially have to make up a point every three games. So long as the team moves one game at a time, there is a chance to turn things around with Laich’s return and sneak into the playoffs.