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End of season review: Brooks Laich


End of season review: Brooks Laich

Throughout the coming weeks, Capitals Insider Chuck Gormley will evaluate the 2014-15 performance of each player on the Caps roster. One breakdown will occur every day in alphabetical order. Today: Brooks Laich

Position: Left wing/Center

Shoots: Left

Age: 31 [turns 32 June 23]

Ht/Wt: 6-2, 197

Games: 66

Goals: 7

Assists: 13

Points: 20

Penalty minutes: 24

Plus-Minus: Minus-2

Average Ice Time: 14:43

Playoff games: 14

Goals: 1

Assists: 1

Points: 2

Penalty minutes: 0

Plus-Minus: Plus-1

Average Ice Time: 11:56

Contract Status: 2 years remaining on 6-year, $27 million contract RFA [2015-16 salary: $4 million; cap hit: $4.5 million]

Strengths: When he was averaging more than 20 goals and close to 50 points a season from 2008-11, it was hard to imagine Laich anywhere but on the Caps’ top two lines. But after missing parts of two seasons with groin issues, Laich’s greatest contribution to the 2014-15 Capitals came on the penalty kill, where he led all Caps forwards with an average ice time of 1:44 while shorthanded.  Laich said he felt as strong physically as he has since first injuring his groin during the 2012 lockout. “I didn’t put one ice bag on my groin all year and that’s the truth,” Laich said. “I had no issues whatsoever with skating or with my groin.” Laich missed 15 of the Caps’ first 21 games with a shoulder injury but played in all but one game the remainder of the season, sitting out as a healthy scratch on March 3. He finished the season with seven goals, his lowest full-season output since his rookie season with the Caps.

Room for improvement: Quite frankly, the Capitals need more production from someone carrying a $4.5 million cap hit. Laich’s ice time dropped from 14:43 in the regular season, his lowest in seven years, to just 11:56 in the playoffs, also the lowest in his career and well off the 21:54 he logged in 2011.  By the end of the playoffs Laich was playing on a fourth line and killing penalties. For that to change, Laich will need to either change teams or improve on his offensive skills. Laich said he will spend this summer working on his stickhandling skills and his shot, which he hopes will result in a greater role offensively.

Memorable Moment: Laich’s only goal of the playoffs came in Game 5 against the Islanders. With the Caps clinging to a 2-1 lead early in the third period and looking  to take a 3-2 edge in the series, Laich looped around the New York net, fed Jason Chimera for a shot and pounced on the rebound, snapping a rising shot over Jaro Halak for a 3-1 lead. The Caps went on to win beat the Isles 5-1.

Quotable: “My neighbors were out there watching practice and two young girls came up to me and said they need to do some community service for health class and they asked me if they could shovel my driveway.  You tell me I don’t love playing in this city?” – Laich on March 4 after sitting out a game as a healthy scratch

2015-16 Expectations: Don’t be surprised if Laich’s name comes up in trade talks around the NHL draft later this month. The Caps are looking to move salary in an effort to sign their restricted and unrestricted free agents, along with acquiring a top-line right wing, and Laich could draw some interest from a young team looking for leadership. If Laich returns, Barry Trotz will want more offense out of the soon-to-be 32-year-old forward. Twenty goals and 50 points might be a stretch, but 15 and 40 should be attainable.


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Trade to Caps potentially offers Jerabek what he never got in Montreal


Trade to Caps potentially offers Jerabek what he never got in Montreal

Defenseman Jakub Jerabek is really happy about the opportunity to play with the Washington Capitals, but it could have come at a better time. The trade came with his parents already on their way from the Czech Republic to visit him.

“It was crazy days past three days because I had my parents on the way to Montreal and they didn't know so it was a big surprise for them,” Jerabek told reporters Saturday after his first skate with the team.

A native of the Czech Republic, Jerabek signed his first NHL contract with the Montreal Canadiens in May 2017. After spending some time in the AHL and struggling to consistently earn a spot in the Canadiens’ lineup, he knew a trade was possible.

“My family, maybe we expected some trade. When its come with Caps and it was Washington, I was really happy.”


Jerabek said he came into the NHL with no expectations and was simply happy for the opportunity, but it is fair to wonder if he was not just the least bit frustrated with how he was utilized by Montreal.

For a player with experience playing for the national team, the Czech league and the KHL, getting only 25 games with a bad Montreal team seems a bit low.

“In first two weeks, I didn't know what's going on because the coaches just told me that I played well, but we just make some competition between the [defensemen] and that I have to wait for my next chance,” Jerabek said. “It was hard, but now I'm happy down here.”

Washington now offers a very different opportunity. In need of help on the blue line, Jeraebek has the chance to earn consistent playing time for a team on pace to reach the postseason.

Jerabek will not play in Saturday’s game against Buffalo, but he was hopeful he would be in the lineup for Monday’s game against the Columbus Blue Jackets.


For now, Jerabek and head coach Barry Trotz are unclear as to what his ultimate role on the team will be. With eight defensemen now on the roster, Trotz cautioned any lineup decision could not be rushed because of the trickle-down effect it will have on the other players.

“You always look at chemistry and all that with your group depending how high that player goes up the lineup, it affects different people,” Trotz said. “In a forward group, if you get a guy that you all of a sudden stick on the first line, there's four other guys that are bumped down and one guy's bumped out.”

The addition of Jerabek, however, offers the Caps another defenseman who can quickly move the puck out of the defensive zone, something the team has struggled with immensely throughout the season. Though he shoots left, he also said he is comfortable playing on the right said and has played there regularly over the past few years. That provides the lineup with some flexibility on the third pair behind Matt Niskanen and John Carlson.

As for Jerabek’s parents, they will be arriving in Washington on Saturday.

“I tried to figure out the situation with them to get them to here and they will come today,” he said. “So I'm really happy.”

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Game 62: Capitals vs. Sabres Date, Time, How to Watch, Game Thread


Game 62: Capitals vs. Sabres Date, Time, How to Watch, Game Thread

What: Washington Capitals vs. Buffalo Sabres

Where: Capital One Arena, Washington, D.C.

When: 7:00 p.m. ET

How to Watch: Capitals-Sabres will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington (Channel Finder)

Live Stream: You can watch the Capitals-Sabres game on NBC Sports Washington's live stream page.


The Capitals (34-20-7) take on the Sabres (18-32-11) Saturday, February 24 at 7:00 p.m. ET in Capital One Arena.


The Capitals-Sabres game will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington. Coverage kicks off with Capitals FaceOff at 6:00 p.m. followed by Caps GameTime at 6:30 p.m. Stay with NBC Sports Washington for Caps Extra following the game, Caps Overtime at 10:00 p.m. and Caps in 30 at 11:00 p.m. for all your postgame coverage. (NBC Sports Washington channel Finder)

6:00 p.m. — Caps FaceOff
6:30 p.m. — Caps GameTime
7:00 p.m. — Capitals vs. Sabres
9:30 p.m. — Caps Extra
10:00 p.m. — Caps Overtime
11:00 p.m. — Caps in 30


Here are the projected lines for the Caps-Sabres game:

Alex Ovechkin - Nicklas Backstrom - Tom Wilson
Brett Connolly - Evgeny Kuznetsov - T.J. Oshie
Chandler Stephenson - Lars Eller - Andre Burakovsky
Devante Smith-Pelly - Jay Beagle - Alex Chiasson

Christian Djoos - John Carlson
Dmitry Orlov - Matt Niskanen
Brooks Orpik - Michal Kempny

Philipp Grubauer starts with Braden Holtby as backup

Scratches: Alex Chiasson, Madison Bowey, Jakub Jerabek


The Capitals-Panthers game, as well as Caps GameTime and Caps Extra, is available to stream live here through NBC Sports Washington's live stream page and is available to authenticated NBC Sports Washington subscribers on desktops, tablets, mobile devices and connected TVs anywhere in the United States.


Use the comment section below to discuss the game action with other Capitals fans. 

For all the latest Caps coverage, follow Capitals Insider Tarik El-Bashir, Capitals correspondent JJ Regan and the NBC Sports Capitals account on Twitter. Be sure check out our Capitals page and NBC Sports Washington's Facebook page.