The Washington Capitals today received an unwelcome day of rest. The Hartford Civic Center was closed because of Hurricane Gloria, postponing tonight's exhibition against the Whalers until Monday and canceling all practice except for a brief exercise session in the team's hotel.
Unable to get transportation home, where they have a Saturday exhibition at Capital Centre against Boston, the players and coaching staff had little to do except discuss Thursday night's 5-0 loss to the Whalers at Binghamton, N.Y. It was not the kind of thing anyone cared to remember.
"Last night some guys cut themselves," said Coach Bryan Murray. "You have to give everybody a chance, but a few guys who were right on the fence certainly helped the evaluation process.
"We left 12 regular guys at home to see who would step forward and show he wanted a job. I didn't see many guys step forward, or show extra jump, or do much of anything."
Of the 20 players in action, only goalie Pat Riggin, defensemen Rod Langway and Kevin Hatcher, and forwards Bob Gould, Doug Jarvis and Yvon Corriveau would be able to sit through the films without squirming. The rest played poorly and making things worse was the comparison with former Capitals Torrie Robertson and Dean Evason, who were standouts for Hartford.
Robertson anchored himself in front of the Washington net, from where he scored a rebound goal. He set up Bob Crawford for another score and generally made himself a nuisance, fighting with Craig Laughlin and driving Langway to distraction.
"Things are going well," said Robertson, traded to the Whalers two years ago for Greg Adams. "A lot of our young guys have improved and we really think we can make the playoffs this year."
Asked about a gash on the bridge of his nose, the rambunctious Robertson laughed and said, "I've got a permanent cut from now to April."
Murray admitted that he would like to have Robertson in his lineup.
"When we traded him, we were trying to upgrade ourselves and we felt we just couldn't use him because of his poor skating," Murray said. "Now we're going to win the Stanley Cup and we could use him. He knows his role, he gets involved and he's a useful player."
Evason was traded to Hartford in March along with goalie Peter Sidorkiewicz for center David Jensen, who is battling back from a serious knee injury and is still several weeks away from contact work.
Meanwhile, Evason is making a solid bid for a job in Hartford. He helped his chances Thursday with a short-handed score, blocking a shot and then converting Dave Tippett's pass after a giveaway by Washington's Daryl Evans. "I wish we were playing tonight," Evason said after the postponement was announced. "I feel good and I want to keep myself in their eye."
After the loss, the Capitals endured a bumpy flight to Hartford. Rookie center Claude Dumas became ill from the combination of postgame food and the bouncing around, and others expressed discomfort.
This morning the Whalers notified the Capitals that the Civic Center would be closed and a protective covering applied to the ice, because of fear of a power outage. The Whalers then loaned Washington enough sweat suits so that the off-ice workout could be held in the Connecticut Ballroom of the Sheraton-Hartford Hotel.
The Capitals face considerable travel in the next few days. They fly home Saturday to play the Bruins, then return the favor in Boston Sunday. After making up tonight's postponement here on Monday, they will fly back to Washington before traveling to San Francisco for games against Minnesota on Wednesday and Thursday.