PITTSBURGH -- Washington Capitals coach Adam Oates repeatedly has asserted that he plans on easing forward Brooks Laich back into the lineup when his recovery from a groin injury was complete.
Now that the time has come for Laich to make his season debut, Washington's alternate captain isn't interested in slowly working his way into the lineup.
"We don't have the luxury of taking the time to get back into form," Laich said Tuesday, in advance of the Capitals' game against the Pittsburgh Penguins (7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, TSN2). "I'm expected to be certain things when I'm on the ice, and anything less than that is not acceptable."
Laich has been activated from injured reserve and will play against the Penguins. It will be his first game action since November, when he injured his groin playing for a team in Switzerland.
"I have been in 'season mode' since September," Laich said. "I just want to make a seamless transition to be part of the team. I don't want this to be any sort of distraction to the guys or anything -- I'm just going to come in, play my game and try to contribute to a win."
Across the Capitals' locker room, it was clear Laich's return was welcomed. Washington (12-15-1) entered Tuesday seven points out of the Eastern Conference's eighth and final playoff spot.