Defenseman Larry Murphy will have some extra incentive to play well tonight when the Washington Capitals play his old team, the winless Los Angeles Kings, at Capital Centre at 7:30.
Murphy missed the Capitals' flight in Chicago yesterday and, as a result, also was absent from the club's afternoon practice at Mount Vernon. The result was a stiff fine and relegation to an even deeper niche in Coach Bryan Murray's doghouse.
Murray was not in a forgiving mood yesterday, particularly after Bengt Gustafsson reinjured his right hamstring during Sunday's 5-3 victory over the Chicago Black Hawks. Dean Evason was recalled from Binghamton to fill that roster vacancy.
"Larry Murphy will pay his own plane fare and he will be fined for missing the bus at the hotel and for missing practice," Murray said. "It will cost him a substantial number of dollars."
That Murphy will be playing at all is the result of matters beyond Murray's control. He sought to have a defenseman recalled from Binghamton, but was dissuaded by that club's situation. The Whalers begin a three-game road trip in Moncton, New Brunswick, tonight and already are short-handed because of injuries and recalls. Besides Evason, Washington called up Gary Sampson Saturday after Gaetan Duchesne suffered a broken hand.
This was Murphy's second reprieve in three days and it could work to his advantage. A year ago, as the Capitals swept three games from the Kings, Murphy scored a goal in each, including two winners.
Because of on-ice problems, Murphy was to sit out weekend games against Philadelphia and Chicago, but wound up playing when Timo Blomqvist was idled by a cracked index finger on his left hand.
Blomqvist still is unavailable and he said yesterday, "It's not healing. I'm not going to do any shooting but just leave it alone and see if it will heal the next few days. It seems there is always something at the start of the season."
Two years ago, Blomqvist -- a solid defender when he is healthy -- suffered a broken jaw in an exhibition game and spent the season shuttling between Washington and Hershey. Last year he went down with a cracked ankle that kept him out until November. The present injury occurred when he blocked a shot in the exhibition against Hartford at Richmond Oct. 4.
For further aggravation along the blueline, Dave Shand has experienced problems wearing a visor to protect a broken sinus bone incurred when he was hit by a puck in training camp. He sought to discard the visor, but the club ordered him to continue using it. "I tried it two years ago and I hated it then," Shand said. "I keep getting a double image and I'm always glancing down to try to see better."
"The doctor says it's a six-week healing process and we're forcing him to keep it on," Murray said. "He has to keep adjusting to it, the same way Bobby Carpenter and Mike Gartner did."
On the plus side, Darren Veitch had an outstanding game in Chicago and appears to be adapting to the need to skate with braces on both knees.
The cast was removed from Bryan Erickson's broken thumb and he was hopeful of playing tonight, saying, "I'm a quick healer. I think I'll be ready."
The thumb will be examined after this morning's practice, but Murray considered it unlikely that Erickson would be in the lineup.
"It's just starting to heal and the doctor says there would be a problem if it got jammed again," Murray said. "It could go on for a couple of weeks and we don't want to be in a position where he'd be lost for any length of time."
Gustafsson reinjured the same muscle that first was damaged in the Canada Cup. Coincidentally, the aggravation occurred the same night that Boston goalie Pete Peeters aggravated an ankle injury incurred during the competition.
"It's stiff today, but it's not nearly as bad as when I pulled it the first time," Gustafsson said. "I'll just have to take it day by day."
Al Jensen will make his seasonal debut in the Washington goal tonight. Pat Riggin played the first three games.