When the Washington Capitals skats onto the Los Angeles Forum ice tonight, several players will be glancing toward the press box, trying to see what teams are represented by scouts.
Bob Plager of St. Louis has watched the Capitals' last four games and Wednesday night in Chicago he was joined by his boss, General Manager Emile Francis. Washington GM Max McNab met with Francis afterward, but said the teams were not close to making a deal.
The Capitals' own scouting plans were disrupted when Roger Croszler, schelduled to scrutinize the Blues in Pittsburgh Wednesday, was a victim of airline overbooking.
With the Capitals winless in six games since their opening-night success in Los Angeles, the players expect more personnel changes and they quickly digest anything that would indicate a possible deal.
Winger Bob Sirois, for example, was convinced that it was Francis' presence, not the preponderance of Washington power plays, that was responsible for his excessive ice time Wednesday.
"It seemed like I was always on the ice," Sirois said. "I never played so much as I did in the first two periods. When they want to showcase somebody for a trade, they let him play a lot, and that was me.
"I hope I don't get traded. I don't want to leave Washington. But I've got that feeling."
Aside from personal reasons, Sirois wants to stay with the Capitals because he likes Coach Danny Belisle's coaching tactics. Sirois, who was disenchanted with Tom McVie's emphasis on conditioning, thinks coaching philosophy played a key role in the Capital's rally from a 2-0 deficit to the Chicago.
For example, the first Washington goal was scored from the slot by Tom Rowe, after Bob Girard and Ryan Walter had pried the puck loose along the boards behind the Chicago net. A year ago, the Capitals would not have sent three forwards so deep, regardless of the score.
"Last year, we never put pressure like that," Sirois said. "We were thinking defense all the time. Now the guys are thinking offence when we're behind. If you're always backing up, you don't take any chances; you won't score."
Defenseman Rick Green, who suffered a bruised left hip in the Oct. 20 home-ice loss to the Kings, will return to action tonight . . . Center Glen Currie has agreed to report to Port Huron . . . Rockie Paul Mulvey asked trainer Gump Embro the best way to have his record colection shipped from his home in Vancouver. Embro asked if the collection contained Christmas records. When Mulvey said it did, he was advised to, "Ship them right to Hershey and save a lot of trouble."