All of a sudden, Lady Luck is smiling on the Washington Capitals. To complement a five-game unbeaten streak that has lifted the Capitals into ninth place in the NHL, the team yesterday received confirmation that there is no fracture in defenseman Rick Green's right wrist.
Green's cast came off and he began therapy immediately. He also was measured for a protective sleeve he will wear over the wrist. It is uncertain exactly when he will return, but it is sufficient that his recovery time from the bad sprain will be measured in days, rather that the two months required for a fracture.
"Things are a lot more pleasant around here today," said General Manager Max McNab, who nevertheless inserted a note of caution when asked who might be benched or shifted to give Green his position back.
"Historically, we never get to make those decisions," McNab said. "We play who's healthy.We don't even bother to worry about it any more. We let mother nature take care of it. It always seems that anytime somebody is coming back, somebody gets hurt. But maybe our luck has really changed."
Since Green was injured in Quebec Nov. 18, the Capitals have played five games, winning three and tying two. Only in the 7-7 deadlock at Detroit has the defense shown signs of collapse.
Pat Ribble has come to the forefront as the defensive leader, posting a plus-four rating over the five games, blocking shots and dealing some rugged checks. His partner, Alan Hangsleben, has been another standout, recording a plus-six and crunching belligerent opponents.
Newcomer Rick Smith, plus-four has teamed with rookie Howard Walker, plus-three, for another solid combination in Green's absence.