An afternoon loafing in the sun by the swimming pool was a most welcome pastime for the Washington Capitals today, following a grueling weekend series in which they were able to take only one of a possible four points against the speedy St. Louis Blues.
It took a two-goal rally in St. Louis Saturday night for the Capitals to get that point, with Ryan Walter and Bob Kelly scoring to create a 3-3 tie. gOn Friday, the Blues had prevailed at Capital Centre, 3-2.
"We'll blow up (Mike) Liut's goalie pads the next time we play them," said Washington Coach Gary Green, referring to the outstanding St. Louis netminder who was voted No. 1 star of both games. Liut stopped 28 shots in Washington, 23 in St. Louis.
Kelly's goal, his first as a Capital, came with 12:04 left in Saturday's game, set up by an outstanding pass from Dennis Maruk. The Blues had several chances to win it, but Washington's Wayne Stephenson held them off with a 13-save effort in the final period.
"I was satisfied with one point out of that game, and I won't say that very often," Green said. "It was a hell of a hockey game. Our guys put out a great effort. Sometimes you have to be satisfied with less than you hoped for at the start.
"We were all over them the first period, they had a good second period and the third period was split. That was a great third period. You have to give St. Louis credit. They were playing their fourth game in five nights and they had to be in good condition to go the way they did in the third period.
"They're as good a skating club as we've faced, both the forwards and defensemen. It was a tough two games for us, not physically as far as pounding goes, but just the effort needed to skate with them. I welcome this break here, because it gives us time to get a couple of guys rested."
Winger Bengt Gustafsson and defenseman Rick Green have been excused from Monday's practice at Culver City Ice Rink. Gustafsson has numerous bruises and Green still is troubled by a sprained ankle.
Even with the bad ankle, Green played an outstanding game in St. Louis, setting up Walter's goal and using his body to slow down the Blues.
"Rick Green played the best hockey game on the road for me since I've been here," Gary Green said. "He was forceful and aggressive and he took the body out well. He made some outstanding body checks in the first period. He played three strong periods.
"In the last two weeks, I see Rick becoming more agressive. You have to remember that last year Rick for the first time got his confidence. This year, besides reasserting his confidence, we've asked Rick to do a couple of extra things.
"We want him to work more on offense, providing more opportunities for our guys, and also to be meaner. We're working with Butch (Bouchard) on aggressiveness, too, and he's starting to lay the body on guys."
The Capitals, except for those morning practice sessions at Culver City, can soak up the sun until Wednesday night, when they play the Loss Angeles Kings at the Forum. Then it's a scheduling nightmare, with games at Denver Thursday, Edmonton Saturday and Winnipeg Sunday.
Green, who tries to prescout each upcoming opponent, will be in Denver Tuesday to watch the Kings and Rockies.
"That's the best prescouting deal the league has ever come up with," Green said. "I'll get a good look at both of them just before we play them."