Rick Bragnalo will play his 100th game for the Washington Capitals today when the Pittsburgh Penguins visit Capital Centre for an important 1:30 contest.
This will be Brangnalo's first appearance of this season in a Washington uniform.The 5-foot-8, 155-pound center was called up from Hershey yesterday, along with defenseman Jean Lemieux, to plug some of those injury gaps.
Left wing Bob Girard is considered doubtful today, while left wing Dave Forbes is expected to play below 100 per cent capacity for Washington. Both are being treated for muscle pulls.
Right wing Doug Patey, who played two games on an emergency basis, has been returned to Hershey.
Lemieux becames the club's sixth defenseman, filling the hole created by Rick Green's shoulder separation. Lemieux recently returned from a shoulder separation and was impressive enough in two weekend games to earn an emergency promotion. Lemieux has played 48 games for the Capitals, having been obtained from Atlanta in January, 1975.
Jim Bedard will be the Capital's goalie today as Washington attempts to cut into the Penguins' 10-point advantage in the Norris Division. It is Pittsburgh the Capitals must logically overhaul to earn a berth in the Stanley Cup playoffs.
"They're the club ahead of us, we're trying to catch them and we've got them in our rink, said Washington coach Tom McVie. "If we don't get something done tomorrow. . .
The Capital's management has been wondering all season whether it made the right decision in leaving Bragnalo in Hershey, after he played all 80 games for Washington last season. Walt McKechnie was expected to strengthen the center position, but instead weakened it, and the team's morale along with it.
"Every team Brags is with does well," said Washington general manager Max McNab. "He's not very big, but he helps more than people realize. All he does is win. He's a bell of a competitor.
"He's probably Hershey's most valuable player at this point. Hershey has been hurting badly because of our imjuries and Buffalo's injuries, and they were down to 14 men. Brags is a big reason why they're over 500. He never hurt us at any time last year."
Bragnalo scored a shorthanded goal of Hershey late in the game Dec. 26 to beat Nova Scotia at Halifax. Then Saturday he produced the tying goal as Hershey came from three down to catch springfield, 5-5. Lemieux also scored in that game.
Bragnalo collected 11 goals and 12 assists with the Capitals last season Lemieux, in only 15 games,scored four. Lemieux is a power-play specialist. While he was recuperating this fall, desperate Hershey coach Chuck Hamilton threw him in on three extraman situations in one game and Lemieux collected three assists.
Bob Sirois, who shares the Capitals' scoring lead with Guy Charron, looked good in yesterday's practice and said he was almost fully recovered from muscle spesms in the neck that forced him to miss Wednesday's 2-2 tie in Pittsburgh. He was also slowed by a charley horse during Friday's 3-3 deadlock with the New York Rangers.