-- Brooks Laich
will miss a game because of injury for the first time in his NHL career Wednesday.
Laich had logged 257 consecutive games for the Washington Capitals
, who will have to face the rival Pittsburgh Penguins
without their jack-of-all-trades forward.
"He's day-to-day, but he's not going to play today or tomorrow (against Carolina)," Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau
said. "We're 10 games away from the postseason, and if this were a situation where he had to play, he would probably find a way to play, but that's not the case. We want to try and have everybody as healthy as we can going into the playoffs."
Boudreau updated Laich's status during his 5 p.m. news conference Wednesday night and say he has been informed by head trainer Greg Smith that Laich can start skating Friday.
"That's a good sign for me," Boudreau said. "If he's able to skate Friday we'll see how he feels after it and that will be the determining factor if he plays Sunday (against Calgary at Verizon Center)."
Boudreau said he wasn't sure if Laich had any broken bones in his face. He also said it's up to Laich and Smith to determine if the player needs to wear a cage on his helmet when he does return.
"He got hit with a puck right here (below the right eye) so it's cut, it's swollen and any time it's near an eye you have got to take precautions," Boudreau said. "Knowing Brooks he probably won't want to wear one (a cage). It might be better for safety reasons, but that's not my call. I think it's between Smitty and Brooks and they'll figure it out. Whatever is best they'll do."
The injury happened after the formal conclusion of practice Tuesday here at Kettler Capitals Iceplex. Rookie defenseman John Carlson
shot a puck that ricocheted off the crossbar and struck Laich in the face.
"To me, if you had to put a picture in the dictionary of what is a hockey player, Brook is it. He loves it, he lives it, he competes hard at it and he improves and gets better at it all the time"
-- Bruce Boudreau
Laich immediately left the ice and bypassed the dressing room in full gear with his hand over his face. Boudreau would not comment on the severity of the injury after the morning skate Wednesday.
"It's not a pretty face, and it was a pretty face," Boudreau said after the morning skate. "I'm saying there are a lot of bruises and a lot of sutures and we haven't got all the reports back yet, but I think he's going to be fine."
Laich already has set career bests in goals (24) and points (56) this season. He is Washington's most versatile player, logging time at all three forward spots and even taking shifts on defense in emergency situations.
"He doesn't want to miss anything, ever. To me he is the consummate hockey player," Boudreau said. "To me, if you had to put a picture in the dictionary of what is a hockey player, Brook is it. He loves it, he lives it, he competes hard at it and he improves and gets better at it all the time."