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Get to know a Cap: Brooks Laich

{Ed note: I've lived about a mile away from the Capitals practice rink for the past two years.  I've gone to a lot of practices, met players at bars and watched a lot of games, so I think I have a handle on these guys....We all know Ovechkin shoots, Backstrom passes and Green sneaks in on the power-play, but here's a look at the "other" players that are going to play a huge role in the upcoming series]


2008 - Brooks Laich 82 23 30 53 -1 31 9 1 3 2 185 12.4

Who he is: Brooks Laich is kind of like the Capitals version of Max Talbot: he's an energetic forward that is upbeat in the locker room and always seems to provide the goal when the team needs it most.  Laich, now a two-time 20 goal scorer, has more offensive skill than Talbot, but both can play in any situation (penalty kill, even strength, power-play) in the last minute of a tight game and be trusted to make the right play.

Laich lately has been lining up as 2nd line left wing, but the Caps tend to be very flexible with how they trot out their lines depending how the games are going.  Still, expect him to see a lot of time with guys like Alex Semin and Sergei Fedorov where Laich is expected to drive the net, opening up space for his teammates to operate with the puck.  In that regards, he might remind Pens fans of Ryan Malone.

How the Pens can neutralize him:  Laich is a good player, but he's not always the most consistent point producer.  He's got one goal in the playoffs so far, and even though he might score 2 goals in the next 3 games, he could also go goal-less too.  The best way to combat Laich is to keep puck possession, so that the Caps can't have possession and allow Laich to play in the Pens zone.  Staying out of the penalty box as much as possible, so that Laich can't post up in front of the Pens net, is also another priority for more than just shutting down Laich.