The Capitals have scratched defenseman Rod Langway and right wing Craig Laughlin from tonight's Capital Centre game against Detroit, Washington's first venture onto home ice in 17 days.

Langway suffered a bruised right thigh when he was struck just above the right knee by a shot from the Sabres' Bill Hajt during Sunday's 4-1 loss in Buffalo.

Laughlin wound up with a sprained left ankle after he was knocked down in front of the Flyers' net during Saturday's 3-1 loss in Philadelphia.

Both were examined yesterday and neither injury was considered serious. Their progress will be monitored today and Wednesday, and there is every reason to believe that both can play against the Bruins in Boston Thursday.

Daryl Evans, who had six shots on goal in his debut with the Capitals Sunday, will replace Laughlin again tonight. Dwight Schofield, who did not dress Sunday, will fill in for Langway.

Coach Bryan Murray, with his team down to 15th place in scoring, adjusted his lines following the weekend drought. The only goals were produced by the Bengt Gustafsson-Gaetan Duchesne-Dave Christian unit, which remains intact.

Alan Haworth will center Jorgen Pettersson and Mike Gartner, and Bob Carpenter will work with Greg Adams and Bob Gould. All six have been having trouble scoring in recent games.

Haworth, who has posted career highs of 27 goals and 58 points playing on a unit with Adams and Laughlin, has managed only one goal and three assists in the last six games. Pettersson has one goal and two assists in his last 11, Gartner one and two in his last nine.

Carpenter, after a short-lived hot streak, has one goal and two assists in the last six games. Adams has one assist in his last five, Gould one assist in the last six.

"We'll keep juggling until we get there," Murray said. "We've got to try something to get some balance. We have such a need on the left side to complement guys who are struggling."

What Murray needs are three Duchesnes. Duchesne gave Carpenter a lift while playing with him and Gould, and he has been outstanding with Gustafsson and Christian in recent games.

"He Duchesne has played so well with Gus and Christian," Murray said. "He's more creative and he's really working out there. He's done everything I could ask of him."

Murray has not always been so quick with his praise this season. He and Duchesne had some early disagreements, principally concerning Duchesne's playing condition, and for some time Duchesne was a fourth-liner seeing little ice time.

"He didn't seem able to give me the effort I wanted early in the year and I was upset with him," Murray said. "He didn't seem to be as intense and I thought it had something to do with his conditioning.

"Now he's playing very well again. He's a good, solid, hard-working, consistent defensive player who can create chances through his skating."

For his part, Duchesne said he felt under considerable pressure early in the season and probably was overly concerned about making mistakes.

"This is my fifth year and there was a lot of pressure," Duchesne said. "I know he wants more of me and I wonder if maybe we're not thinking the same level. When you play with pressure, it's tougher.

"But in January I started to play a lot and I got more confidence. It was a case of 'Do more of what you can do' -- and I know what I can do. Right now I'm feeling good. I'm getting lots of ice time and I play on a good line. I don't mind playing with any line. I just want ice time. If he plays me, I'll respond."

Duchesne has scored at least one point in six straight games, the longest current streak on the team.

Despite Duchesne's emergence, the Capitals need better production on the wings. That fact, obvious to one and all, has Washington prominently mentioned in trade rumors involving such expendable standouts as Rick Vaive of Toronto and John Ogrodnick of Detroit. The major problem is the Capitals' lack of trading material. Washington lacks depth throughout the organization, making a package deal unlikely, and since the Capitals figure to finish high, their draft choices are not highly prized. General Manager David Poile has said repeatedly that he does not wish to upset the chemistry of the team by trading just for the sake of changing faces.

The trading deadline is noon on March 11. Asked whether he expected a major transaction by that date, Poile said, "I don't know how to answer that. I guess, based on the weekend results, some people would see the need for change. But based on the whole season, I think we match up pretty well with just about anybody.

"We have a few games to go and certainly we're capable of straightening out our problem areas. As for deals just before the deadline, you never know. Sometimes nothing happens. Other years, things will snowball, with one trade leading to another."

Several local cable systems did not show Sunday night's Washington-Buffalo game on ESPN, although notices were sent to all systems on Jan. 29 stating that the usual area blackout had been lifted because neither Home Team Sports nor WDCA-TV-20 was televising the game.

"Some cable companies are more efficient than others and some apparently just didn't change their computers," said Joel Nixon, National Hockey League vice president for broadcasting. "The notice definitely went out. ESPN wants all the coverage it can get."