Hockey sticks once again take over for snow shovels today as the Washington Capitals, anxious to blot out memories of a lost week, return to the Capital Centre ice for a 1:30 game with the Winnipeg Jets.
The Capitals, despite predictable travel difficulties caused by unplowed streets near their various suburban Maryland homes, were able to work out at the Bowie Ice Rink yesterday. Coach Bryan Murray hoped they had overcome Thursday's 8-3 disaster on Long Island, but felt uneasy about the disruption of routine caused by the snow.
"It bothers me, and the major thing that concerns me is that when we haven't skated the normal practice on certain days, we haven't played well in the following game," Murray said.
The Capitals were idle Monday, since they returned late on a milk-run charter flight from Quebec that stopped in Albany. Tuesday they drilled under Assistant Coach Terry Murray, while Murray attended the All-Star Game.
The team encountered problems with the ice at its normal practice facility, Fort Dupont, on Wednesday, and the reflooding that was required limited the scheduled 90-minute workout to 40 minutes.
After Thursday's one-sided loss to the Islanders, the team flew home and arrived as the storm was beginning. Friday night's home game with Vancouver was postponed and yesterday's practice was switched from Fort Dupont to Bowie to minimize transportation problems for the players. However, they still had to drive to Capital Centre to dress.
The biggest problem may be rescheduling that game. The Canucks were still here yesterday, trying to get a flight into Boston for a game this afternoon. They will play Tuesday in Winnipeg and do not come east of Minnesota the rest of the season.
A proposed Monday replay was ruled out because of the changeover necessitated for Tuesday's opening of the Ice Capades at Capital Centre. April 4, the day after the end of the regular season, is considered a prime possibility, although that would interfere with both teams' preparations for playoff openers April 6.
Another scenario would have Washington play at Vancouver Feb. 20 in place of Los Angeles, the Canucks' scheduled opponent, with the Kings making up their Vancouver date on March 10. This might be forced on the Capitals, since the Canucks are struggling for a playoff berth and the game is more important to them than to Washington.
Winnipeg ended an 11-game winless streak on the road with a 4-2 victory at Detroit yesterday; it was the Jets' first road victory in 1983. Murray's chief concern, other than the sharpness of his own club, centered around the Jets' swift Swedish line of Bengt Lundholm, Willy Lindstrom and Thomas Steen, which played a key role in two 3-3 ties between the teams earlier this season.