Coach Bryan Murray will outline the facts of life to the Washington Capitals before Thursday night's contest against the Vancouver Canucks.
The principal focus of Murray's planned address begins with B, but it will not be concerned with the birds and bees. The key word is Binghamton.
When the Capitals return from the current road trip on Sunday, some changes will be made, according to Murray. Several members of the team could be heading up Interstate 83 to Binghamton, unless they show remarkable form during the game here and the one Saturday at Edmonton.
"We're going to get down to the 20 or 21 players we want for the stretch drive," Murray said. "We've got injured players coming back and we may promote at least one player from Binghamton, so there could be a few guys going the other way."
Winger Bengt Gustafsson, who suffered a slight pull in the left hamstring on Feb. 8, is scheduled to return to action Thursday. Although Gustafsson's scoring statistics are disappointing, five goals and 24 assists in 35 games, Murray is counting on him for an increased role the rest of the way.
"The only thing I ask of Gus is that he shoot more," Murray said. "He's very creative and he sets up opportunities for his linemates, but there are too many times when he's foolishly making an extra pass while a good shot is available."
Winger Gary Sampson is scheduled to begin skating Thursday at Mount Vernon and he should be ready to play Tuesday, when Vancouver visits Capital Centre. Sampson strained a ligament in his left knee Feb. 13 at Winnipeg.
Although goaltender Al Jensen is still recuperating from the arthroscopy that was performed on his left knee Feb. 7, Murray is counting on him for service in March. Jensen skated and took shots Tuesday in San Diego, but missed today's workout because he became ill.
Pat Riggin will play his eighth straight game in the nets Thursday, with Bob Mason awaiting another chance after Murray became angered by his poor effort Feb. 1.
Decisions must be made on several other players. A major concern has been the work of defenseman Peter Andersson, who is scheduled to return from Binghamton Monday. Andersson, currently on his second 1985 tour with the Whalers, has not been impressive there and sat out the club's last game with a bruised back. He could be told to stay there.
On the other hand, center Dean Evason has been so impressive that plans to keep him in Binghamton the rest of the season are likely to be scrapped.
Should Evason come up, and with Gustafsson and Sampson returning to duty, as many as three forwards could be heading the other way.
Prime candidate for demotion is center Glen Currie, who has not been able to regain his form of the last two seasons, when he was an excellent defensive center and penalty killer.
Another player whose future is in jeopardy is right wing Bryan Erickson. Demoted to the fourth line with Greg Adams and Currie, Erickson has managed only one goal and six assists in the last 20 games.
"He's definitely been worn down as the season has gone on," Murray said. "When we go on the road, other teams put big wingers like (Clark) Gillies and ((Brian) MacLellan against him and he just can't handle them. I'm hoping the five-day break will benefit him and help him get some of his strength back."
Adams and Lou Franceschetti are two others who will be under scrutiny in the next two games. Both were called up from Binghamton under emergency circumstances, Adams on Dec. 28 when Sampson first injured his knee and Franceschetti on Feb. 11, after Gustafsson was hurt.
Both have performed with intensity in recent games, providing the Capitals with the physical play they have been lacking up front.