Barring a medical miracle, Al Jensen will be in goal for the Washington Capitals tonight when they battle the Calgary Flames at Capital Centre at 7:30.
Jensen, called up from Hershey Friday, was the only goalie at yesterday's practice. Dave Parro, the No. 1 man, is still incapacitated after being struck on the left shoulder by a Mike Gartner shot in a drill a week ago. Parro has a bone bruise, damaged nerves and fluid buildup around a pin inserted after surgery on the shoulder in April.
Mike Palmateer, who started the last four games, received arthroscopic treatment on his right knee Monday, to flush out some floating loose bodies, according to Dr. Pat Palumbo. The knee was swollen yesterday and it is uncertain when he will be able to play again, although Palumbo said that, barring complications, he should be ready in a few days.
The scheduling of Palmateer's arthroscopy, classified as minor surgery, would not seem very timely. However, Palmateer said he had been suffering from pain in the knee for some time. He sought to have the work done two weeks ago, but it was postponed.
Palumbo said the knee was functional and the arthroscopy was performed to relieve the pain, rather than to repair structural damage. If Palmateer could have lived with the aching, he could have played tonight.
"He was examined two weeks ago, but we didn't have it done then because several games were coming up," said Roger Crozier, the Capitals' acting general manager. "We had to pick a time and it's tough to find a time. It was scheduled yesterday with the idea of missing as little as possible. Under normal circumstances, he should be fine within a day or two."
For Jensen, this is a long-awaited second chance to play in the National Hockey League. His only start came for Detroit on Nov. 20, 1980, when he lost in Montreal, 7-3. Although road losses were common for a team that won only three of 40 away from home, Jensen did not get another chance with the Red Wings and was traded to Washington in July for Mark Lofthouse.
Jensen, who started this season in Hershey, played the last 27 minutes in relief of Palmateer Saturday in Hartford and allowed one goal in 13 shots.
"I was told I may play against Calgary because of the injuries," Jensen said. "I'd like to get the chance. That one game was held against me by Detroit and I'd like to show that I can do a lot better."
Two other players with something to prove tonight are Randy Holt and Bob Gould, dealt to Washington by the Flames a week ago. Holt will start on defense, with either Howard Walker or Timo Blomqvist sitting out. Gould will be the third-line right wing, with Gaetan Duchesne and Tim Tookey.
"I'm still not decided whether I like the move here or not," Holt said. "I had some things going for me in Calgary, like a public relations job that paid me $25,000 a year. I had a verbal agreement with the Flames that they wouldn't do anything with me at least until the end of this season, and they broke it.
"One good thing is that I've got a chance to play. I prefer defense, but I wound up on the wing before when I was assigned people like (Al) Secord and (Paul) Holmgren, to make sure they didn't fool around out there.
"I've learned to control myself. Just to go out looking for trouble is utter stupidity. When I go out there, I'm looking for respect from one guy. I'll try to get it by talking, or by playing against him or, as a last thing if it's necessary, by fighting. I'm more than willing, but I'd rather play hockey first. That's what counts. The rest comes naturally."
Taking Holt's place as a fourth-line winger will be Torrie Robertson, who played in the two victories over Philadelphia, then was returned to Hershey.
Calgary, which recently acquired Lanny McDonald from Colorado, comes here with a six-game unbeaten streak, following a start almost as bad as that of Washington.