While most of the Washington Capitals have been wandering in and out of the Vancouver Hotel and seeing the sights between workouts, Ryan Walter has been getting tucked in, by his mother.

A rare quirk in the National Hockey League schedule left the Caps in Vancouver three nights before Saturday's game with the Canucks. The layoff enabled Walter to stay with his parents in suburban Burnaby.

Walter, who starred with the Seattle Breakers in the Western Canada Junior League last year, lives about 10 minutes from the Pacific Coliseum. There is nothing he would like better than to pop a goal or two before the local fans Saturday night.

"I'm on a line now with Mark Loft-house and Paul Mulvey and they're both from the west, so we're hoping to have a big night," said Walter.

Lofthouse played for New Westminster, another 10-minute drive from Walter's house. Mulvey is from Marritt, British Columbia Vancouver 30 miles northeast.

Caps General Manager Max McNab, who once was coach and general manager of the Canucks in the Western League, says he's hoping Walter and his two linemates will mature together.

"One is 20 and the other two are 21, so we're hoping they can come along together and in two or three years we'll really have something," said McNab. "We've got to invest our time and money in youngsters through the draft. You can't trade and gain ground.

The Capitals, who will be without defenseman Rick Green (bruised eye), blueliner Yvon Labre (dislocated shoulder) and forward Greg Carroll (knee problems), will be running into a team which is unbeaten in its last five games.

Saturday night's game concludes a four-game trip for the Caps. They return turn to Capital Centre Tuesday nigth against the Colorado Rockies.