Defenseman Rod Langway, the Washington Capitals' captain, was fitted for a knee brace yesterday in New York and he is expected to begin skating today. Coach Bryan Murray hopes that Langway will be able to play in Tuesday's home game against Edmonton.
Langway suffered a strained ligament in his right knee Oct. 23 at Calgary. At that time, it was determined he would stay off skates for two weeks. Allowing a week for conditioning, that would place him back in uniform Friday when Vancouver comes to town.
No doubt spoiled by Larry Murphy's whirlwind return from a broken foot, the Capitals are hoping to escalate things with Langway.
"Rod said the knee feels great, so we'll give him four days of skating and see how he is," Murray said. "He's worked hard off the ice; now it's a matter of ice time. We hope he can play Tuesday, but if he does we'll break him in slowly with reduced playing time, as we did Larry."
Murphy saw limited duty Tuesday against Chicago, one week after breaking the navicular bone in his left foot. The next night in Pittsburgh, after Scott Stevens was injured, Murphy was forced to perform extra duty and played well.
Stevens received treatment for his bruised right knee yesterday and reported that the muscle above it was "very tight." He is considered extremely doubtful to play in tonight's Capital Centre game against the Flames.
If Stevens does not dress, tonight will mark the first time he and Langway have both been absent from a game since they joined the Capitals in 1982.
Without Langway, the Capitals thus far have posted a remarkable 5-1-1 record, a tribute to the manner in which many of his teammates have exerted themselves to plug the gap. Perhaps none has outshone past performance more than left wing Greg Adams.
In 14 games, Adams has 12 points, two-thirds of his total for last season and four more points than he scored in 57 games in 1983-84. He has at least one point in the team's last six games.
Adams also leads the Capitals in penalties and Coach Bryan Murray is just as pleased with that statistic as he is with the others. He wants Adams to be more involved, jamming the net and banging opponents in the corners.
That was the role Murray envisioned for Adams when he stationed him on the No. 1 line with Bob Carpenter and Mike Gartner. Then, when Murray shuffled his lines because of a lack of overall scoring, Adams found himself skating with Alan Haworth and Craig Laughlin. Since that unit has produced 12 goals and 32 scoring points in the last seven games, it is fair to say that Adams still plays on the No. 1 line.
"I told them that wherever they've got a trouble spot, I'll be glad to help out," said Adams, making it plain that he was joking.
When Adams reported to training camp, neither he nor Murray considered him anything but a third- or fourth-line winger, and there was no guarantee he would be in Washington. "During the summer, I had him penciled in as a fourth-liner, certainly no higher than third," Murray said. "But he's been working hard and doing some things out there, making things happen. We need a few more goals from him and if he can do that, he can be a big help to this team."
Adams would like to add a few goals, too. He once scored 62 as a junior at Victoria, but his NHL high is 10, with Hartford in 1982-83. "Obviously, there's a difference between scoring in junior and in pro," Adams said. "In certain situations I haven't made the most of my opportunities. At other times I haven't had the opportunities, because I haven't had any ice time.
"I'm happy the way things are going now and our line is playing well. But I'm going to keep it in perspective and not go overboard. I hate guys who play a week and tell you how good they are. Then a week later you can't even find them in the Hockey News.
"I've felt fairly good all season and scoring in six straight games gives me some extra confidence. But I don't want to worry about it. I want to keep a good thing going, but I won't push the panic button if I go a game without a point."
Adams admits he tended to worry too much in the past, as he bounced from Philadelphia to Hartford to Washington with lengthy interludes in Portland, Maine, and Binghamton, N.Y.
"I've been concerned about my future before and sometimes as early as June I'd drive 50 miles to start skating again," Adams said. "This year after the season ended, I made myself relax. I hit the weights hard in July and August, particularly working on my legs, and I think it's brought more jump to my skating.
"But the big thing was that I was happy with the end of last season. I got more ice time and I played a more significant role -- it would have been hard not to be more significant. Bryan and (General Manager) David (Poile) both told me they were happy with my progress and told me to build on it.
"I came to camp determined to start where I was last year and move ahead. I didn't want to go back three steps and start over."
Meanwhile, Adams is enjoying some laughs. A recent newspaper story noted that what was considered a "minor trade," the swap of Torrie Robertson to Hartford for Adams, had helped both the Whalers and Capitals. "How can they call that a minor trade? That was a major trade," Adams shouted to the few teammates who would listen.