From suburban Maryland, Montreal, Boston and even British Columbia, the Washington Capitals will board early-morning flights today to reassemble for a noon practice in Toronto.At 8 p.m. (WDCA-TV-20) they will battle the Toronto Maple Leafs in a renewed, uphill drive toward a spot in the National Hockey League playoffs.
One Capital, center Wes Jarvis, can sleep late. For him, it is just a ride of a few minutes to Maple Leaf Gardens and his first NHL game in his hometown.
"It's just a leisurely 20-minute ride to the rink," Jarvis said. "And we're going to go in there and blow them out. There are a lot of Toronto guys on this team and we're all going to be flying."
Of the nine Ontarians on the squad, however, four will not be on the ice tonight. Dennis Maruk and Yvon Labre are recuperating from knee surgery, while goalies Gary Inness and Wayne Stephenson will be watching a son of Alberta, Rollie Boutin, perform in the nets.
That leaves Rick Green, Mike Gartner, Mike Kaszycki, Paul MacKinnon and Jarvis in red, white and blue to uphold the honor of Ontario. In Jarvis' case, his contribution will depend on the amount of playing time he is accorded by another Ontarian, Coach Gary Green.
As a fourth-string center, considering Green's perference for three lines, Jarvis does not figure to be overworked. Based on his performances while injuries made him one of the chosen three, that is unfortunate.
Jarvis was called up from Hershey Nov. 16 during the worst of the medical crises and only he and Boutin remain of the "Chocolate Corps." In 17 games, many of which saw him receive limited duty, Jarvis has collected five goals and six assists.
Against Quebec Dec. 1, Jarvis recorded one goal and three assists in the third period of a 7-2 victory. In the loss to Pittsburgh Dec. 7, he posted a goal and two assists. But the Pittsburgh game also marked the first appearance of the newly acquired Kaszycki and his arrival, plus the return of Guy Charron, and Rolf Edberg from the injury list, meant reduced action for Jarvis.
"Jarvie's weakness is skating and agaist the better skating teams he has a problem," Green said. "Considering that he played in the International League last year, his improvement to the present time has been remarkable. Still, he is not ahead of the other three."'
Against the New York Rangers, a good skating team, Jarvis posted an important third-period goal and also dazzled a screaming crowd with a brilliant shift while Washington was protecting a 5-4 lead. Jarvis dove in the slot to knock the puck away before a threatening Ranger could shoot, then moments later blocked a shot at the point.
The condition of Charron's right thigh might persuade Green to give Jarvis some extra shifts tonight. Charron did not practice Monday and he has been skating in pain for several weeks.
"Sure, there's pain, but I'll just have to stick with it until I can give it some rest," Charron said. "I'm hoping to rest it after we come back from Minnesota next week."
The Capitals, following tonight's game, are at home to Chicago Friday, visit the Rangers Sunday and play road games at hartford Jan. 4 and Minnesota Jan. 5. They have an exhibition game against Moscow Dynamo Jan. 8, which Charron could easily misss, before entertaining Vancouver Jan. 11.