The Washington Capitals will open the 2013-14 regular season Tuesday against the Chicago Blackhawks, but whether or not left wing Brooks Laich will make his season debut with the rest of his teammates remains to be seen.
The 30-year-old arrived in the locker room after Monday's practice wearing a toothy grin, and was confident that he will play in Chicago.
“I’m in,” Laich said. “Oct. 1 was the date I circled to be ready for. I would have liked to have a couple more exhibition games, but I felt great out there today and I’m in as far as I know.
“It’s their call but 100 percent I feel great and I’m ready to go.”
Head coach Adam Oates, however, did not confirm Laich's status, saying that he will check with head athletic trainer Greg Smith before finalizing his opening-night roster.
"If he's ready to go," Oates said of Laich, "he'll play."
Laich missed all but nine games last season because of a groin injury that required surgery, and only played in one preseason game while nursing a sore left hip flexor. On Monday, he skated on the second line along with Martin Erat, Mikhail Grabovski and Troy Brouwer.
Washington's forward lines Monday reflected the uncertainty regarding Laich's status:
Marcus Johansson - Nicklas Backstrom - Alex Ovechkin
Brooks Laich/Martin Erat - Mikhail Grabovski - Troy Brouwer
Jason Chimera - Eric Fehr - Joel Ward
Aaron Volpatti - Jay Beagle/Michael Latta - Tom Wilson
If Laich does indeed play Tuesday, expect him to start on the second line with Grabovski and Brouwer, while Erat will slide down into the third-line center position with Fehr on his left and Ward on his right. Chimera will then take Volpatti's place on the left side of the fourth line with Beagle and Wilson.
Meanwhile, the defensive pairings look to be the same as they were during the latter half of last season:
Mike Green - Karl Alzner
John Erskine - John Carlson
Jack Hillen - Steve Oleksy/Connor Carrick
To no surprise, Braden Holtby will start in goal for Washington Tuesday.
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