ARLINGTON, Va. -- Washington Capitals forward Brooks Laich, who just returned from an 11-game absence precipitated by the latest flare-up of his lingering groin injury, will not play Friday against the New York Rangers.
"There's been a bit of a change," Laich said following Washington's morning skate. "To be honest, I don't know what I'm at liberty to say and I'm kind of in a holding pattern right now. The indication that I've got is that I won't be playing [Friday]. Other than that, I honestly don't know what else to tell you."
The 30-year-old, who missed all but nine games last season with the aforementioned injury that ultimately required abdominal surgery, skated 13:23 in the Capitals' 3-2 loss to the Anaheim Ducks on Monday, his first action since Nov. 27.
He made it through the game OK but woke up Tuesday with considerable discomfort. The pain has partially subsided but not enough to risk putting Laich back in the lineup.
"I think it's going to be an ongoing thing we're going to monitor all the time until it either gets away totally, gets out of his head totally, but we don't want to set him back," Capitals coach Adam Oates said, adding that Laich will meet with doctors Friday. "It's disappointing because George [McPhee, general manager] and I met with him [Monday] and he said he felt 100 percent -- contact, conditioning, everything. I think in his mind he did feel that way.
"You watch him [during the morning skate Friday], he looks good but there's still something that's not correct in his mind."
Philipp Grubauer will start in goal for the Capitals, his sixth start in the team's past nine games. Meanwhile, Cam Talbot is expected to receive his third consecutive start; according to Elias Sports Bureau, it will be the first time Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist will miss three consecutive starts for any reason since Dec. 17-21, 2006.
Here are the projected lineups for the Capitals and Rangers:
Marcus Johansson - Nicklas Backstrom - Alex Ovechkin
Eric Fehr - Mikhail Grabovski - Troy Brouwer
Jason Chimera - Martin Erat - Joel Ward
Aaron Volpatti - Jay Beagle - Tom Wilson
Karl Alzner - John Carlson
Dmitry Orlov - Mike Green
John Erskine - Steve Oleksy
Scratched: Alexander Urbom, Michal Neuvirth
Injured: Brooks Laich (groin), Michael Latta (lower body), Jack Hillen (fractured tibial plateau)
Derick Brassard - Brad Richards - Mats Zuccarello
Chris Kreider - Derek Stepan - Rick Nash
Carl Hagelin - J.T. Miller - Benoit Pouliot
Brian Boyle - Dominic Moore - Derek Dorsett
Ryan McDonagh - Dan Girardi
John Moore - Anton Stralman
Michael Del Zotto - Justin Falk
Scratched: Taylor Pyatt
Injured: Ryan Callahan (sprained left MCL), Marc Staal (concussion)