The Washington Capitals, who have struggled through a half season of affliction by injury, were worried yesterday that disease was about to claim an equal share of the action.
Coach Tom McVie missed two straight practices with the flu, aide Roger Crozier took to his bed after serving as a substitute and the problem spread to the player ranks as left wing Bob Girard reported to practice, loaded up on antibiotics and went home.
Girard had just returned to action Wednesday after recuperating from a groin pull. At least right wing Eddy Godin, idled Wednesday by a broken toe was available for last night's game against the Buffalo Sabres. He skated with the toe taped.
The Capitals fly to Chicago today for their second afternoon game of the season, a 4 p.m. EST (WTOP-1500) contest against the Black Hawks.
Although the Capitals figure to be a bit weary after last night's duel with the speedy Sabres, the Black Hawks were in no better shape, having played last night in St. Louis.
"We considered moving the Buffalo game to afternoon," said Washington general manager Max McNab, "but since Chicago was in the same boat we felt there was no advantage to be [LINE ILLEGIBLE]
The Hawks have been complaining about the large number of back-to-back games on their schedule, feeling that they are losing a bit of their home-ice-edge by playing on the road the night before a home contest. Their previous visit to St. Louis, Dec, 21, was followed by a 4-0 loss to the Los Angeles Kings in Chicago Stadium.
The NHL schedule has the Capitals' only two visits to Chicago this season coming just 10 days apart. Washington will return Jan. 18, to face off a four-game, five-day road trip while the boat show inhabits Capital Centre.
The Capitals have played some memorable games in previous visits to Chicago, although they have won only one and tied one in six games.
It was on Oct. 23, 1974, that the Capitals' Michel Belhumeur became the first NHL goalie ever to stop two penalty shots in one game. He halted veterans Jims Pappin and Stan Mikita, but Chicago won anyway, 3-2.
Tony White recorded a hat trick as the Capitals beat the Hawks, 7-5, on Oct. 26, 1975, for only their second victory in 47 road games.
The Capitals' first-ever victory came over theBlack Hawks at Capital Centre on Oct. 17, by a 4-3 score.