After defenseman Scott Stevens suffered a bruised right knee in Pittsburgh Nov. 6, he was listed as "day to day, out one week tops."
The Penguins visit Capital Centre tonight for goalie Pete Peeters' debut as a Capital and a rematch is scheduled in Pittsburgh Wednesday. Stevens will miss both games and there are no further guesses about his return.
"Whenever I can skate, I can play," Stevens said. "Hopefully, some day soon it (the knee) will come around for me."
Stevens skated during yesterday's practice at Capital Centre and he was on the ice long after his teammates had drifted to the dressing room. But his exercise was limited to light skating and shooting.
"I'm not supposed to skate hard," Stevens said. "It hurts when I turn. It's all right when I walk; I can walk normally. But it hurts when I skate. It's usually the other way around.
"It's taking a long time. It's not fun. This is the longest I ever sat out in my life. I can't ever remember missing two games in a row before."
Stevens had been forced out of only five games in three previous NHL seasons before this injury, which occurred when he was pushed from behind as he reached for his own rebound and crashed into the boards in back of the Pittsburgh net.
"It's a deep bruise and all the soreness hasn't come out yet," said Coach Bryan Murray. "We'd certainly expected him back before this, but we're not going to push it. There's no way we'd take any chances with Scott."
Peeters worked with his new defense partners yesterday and, as expected, was given tonight's assignment. Al Jensen, who has been outstanding in his last four appearances, is scheduled to play in Pittsburgh, where he blocked 38 shots in a 4-1 victory the night Stevens was hurt.
Terry Murray, the assistant who handles the defensemen, spent considerable practice time ironing out procedures with Peeters and the backline yesterday.
"We talked about what will happen when Pete stops the puck behind the net," Terry Murray said. "Pete controls the puck and he gets back there fast. But most of the time we will encourage him to leave the puck for the defenseman. If we're under pressure and the forechecker is right on the defenseman, then he can make the play himself and move the puck up to the winger or dink it off the boards to the defenseman. For now, though, we don't want him to overhandle it."
Peeters' puck movement is an area where he rates much higher than the man he replaced, Pat Riggin.
Riggin, who had nothing but kind words for the Capitals following Thursday's trade, spoke in similar fashion after he had joined the Bruins.
"I was hoping to win the Stanley Cup as a member of the Washington Capitals," Riggin said. "To knock them now, because I was traded, would be stupid. They'll do fine without Pat Riggin. But if they win without me, I'll always wish that I could have gone along and contributed."
The Penguins also practiced at the Centre yesterday and Murray watched part of their workout. Pittsburgh Coach Bob Berry then sat in the stands for the first half hour of Washington's practice. "There aren't many secrets in this league," Bryan Murray said. "People know the players through TV and tapes. Each home game we have to provide a tape to the team we play. I just wanted to see how they practiced, figuring maybe I could pick up a drill I could use."
The Capitals are 9-6-3, the first time in their 12-year history they have been above .500 after 18 games . . . The goaltending switch brought a minor benefit to the Capitals yesterday when two fans who canceled season tickets because of Riggin's anti-American comments last spring called to renew them. Riggin long ago had apologized for the remarks, made following Team Canada's victory over the United States in the World Championships at Prague . . . After the practice, a nutritionist spoke in separate presentations to the Capitals and their wives. "We think it's important for the wives to understand what we're working for," Bryan Murray said. "Proper diet is part of winning, too."