By Tarik El-Bashir
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, December 4, 2008
Washington Capitals Coach Bruce Boudreau had hoped at least one of his team's seven injured players would return tonight against the New York Islanders. But after yesterday's practice, there's no guarantee that will happen.
The only player who might be available to help the Capitals as they attempt to stop a two-game slide, Boudreau said, is Sergei Fedorov, who has missed 12 of the past 13 games with a sprained ankle. But after practicing for 45 minutes, the veteran center left early, casting doubt on his status.
Here's the latest on the others (excluding the players on long-term injured reserve):
· Mike Green (bruised shoulder) didn't practice but said he is aiming to return Saturday in Toronto. He has missed seven games.
· Alexander Semin (upper torso strain) also did not practice after suffering a setback Tuesday while shooting. He has missed nine games, and when asked about a timetable for Semin's return, Boudreau would only say, "I don't know."
· Tom Poti (groin muscle pull) did not practice for a sixth consecutive day. He has missed three games, though he hopes to accompany the team on its road trip this weekend.
· John Erskine (mild concussion) also did not practice one day after skating with the team. It's unclear whether he has suffered a setback. He has missed four games.Most Improved on TV
The Capitals' local television ratings on Comcast SportsNet are up 140 percent this year over last, according to a study released by Nielsen yesterday. The average household rating is 1.2, up from about 0.5 at this time last season. Nielsen reported that 11 clubs experienced a double-digit increase, with Washington enjoying the biggest spike followed by Chicago (71 percent) and San Jose (50 percent). The top teams in household ratings, according to Nielsen, are Buffalo (8.9 percent), Pittsburgh (5.7) and Detroit (3.3).Day Off for Ovechkin
Alex Ovechkin was given the day off to recover from an undisclosed nagging injury. Boudreau said there's a 99 percent chance he'll suit up tonight. . . . Boudreau, with slightly more than a year's NHL coaching experience on his résumé, became the longest-tenured coach in the Southeast Division yesterday after Carolina fired Peter Laviolette, the all-time winningest American-born coach, in his fifth year. . . .
Stefan Della Rovere, the Capitals' seventh-round draft pick this past summer, has been invited to next month's Canadian National Junior Team Selection Camp. The 18-year-old has 16 goals and 11 assists with Barrie of the Ontario Hockey League. . . . Goaltender Brent Johnson is expected to start against Doug Weight (22 points) and the Islanders, who have won six of nine and have been off for five days.