Capitals coach Adam Oates says injured forward Brooks Laich is progressing as he recovers from a groin injury sustained while playing in Switzerland during the NHL lockout. That hasn’t turned into a specific timeline for his return, however.

“I think he’s really close to contact,” Oates said. “And you know, I can only speak from experience where I had a couple groin injuries and you feel like it’s lingering and also one day you feel like ‘Wow, it’s that much better that I can take contact and then once you get over that hurdle you’re fine.”

Laich didn’t want to discuss his status on Tuesday after participating in the morning skate again with his teammates before tonight’s game against the Maple Leafs at Verizon Center. He had first skated with them during a morning skate in Toronto last Thursday. So Laich is clearly getting closer to a return – but not quick enough to suit him.

“I would hope every guy wants to play,” Oates said. “But, yeah, I know what you mean. He’s dying. Nobody wants to miss time at the start of the year and he’s a big part of our team and we miss him.”

Oates added: “[Laich] said he felt a lot better. And it’s one of those situations where I got to trust the trainers and doctors. So in terms of evaluation, how soon – I don’t know. Sometimes it might linger, sometimes it might just go to that next level and feel great.”

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