Washington Capitals right wing Dino Ciccarelli -- the team's leading scorer last season -- will be out six to eight weeks because of a fractured right thumb.
The Capitals were happy with their 4-0 win over New Jersey Saturday night, but the victory included several injuries: Ciccarelli's fractured thumb, Alan May's badly injured knuckle and John Druce's slightly sprained knee.
May will be out for possibly two weeks. However, Druce -- who did not play the last 50 minutes of the game -- said he was fine yesterday and practiced with the team at Mount Vernon Recreation Center.
Ciccarelli -- who led the team with 41 goals and 79 points last season -- was hurt late in the third period when the Devils' Laurie Boschman "got me with a two-handed slash," Ciccarelli said yesterday after watching practice.
Boschmann did not receive a penalty, but the Capitals have asked the NHL office to review the play.
"It was a vicious swing," Capitals Coach Terry Murray said.
Ciccarelli did not participate in Sunday's optional workout. By then he had gone to a hospital near his home in the Annapolis area for an X-ray. The Capitals said nothing about the injury -- technically called a Bennett's fracture -- until yesterday. Ciccarelli is scheduled for surgery today at Sibley Hospital, where doctors will insert a pin at the base of his thumb.
"Somebody joked that I hadn't gotten a break until I got this one," said Ciccarelli, who was in an early season slump with just one goal in the first nine games. "The team is starting to play well. The Russian is in there and he's a strong skater. It was bad timing for this."
The Russian is defenseman Mikhail Tatarinov, who will make his NHL debut tonight as the Capitals play the Philadelphia Flyers at 7:35 p.m. at The Spectrum.
May's injury is not as serious, but will likely keep him out for the rest of the month.
He was injured in a first-period fight. On the last of several blows he delivered to the head of New Jersey's Al Stewart, a cut opened on the middle knuckle of May's left hand and the tendon was pushed to the side.
The injury makes opening and closing his fist -- a crucial motor skill in May's occupation -- an iffy proposition, so the finger was put in a splint.
"I'll wear this for 10 days or so and hopefully the tendon will set by itself," May said. "Otherwise, they can tack it back on."
The Capitals were carrying two extra forwards, Tim Bergland and Rob Murray, so they will insert them in the lineup for tonight's game. It's possible they may call up another forward for the rest of the five-game road trip, which also takes the team to Chicago, Calgary, Edmonton and Vancouver.
"Right now, we'll go with what we have," General Manager David Poile said. In reference to Ciccarelli, he added, "Obviously, it was a frustrating start and this doesn't help matters."
Ciccarelli scored his only goal against Detroit in the season's second game. Since then, he's had just one assist, leaving him with five points. There have been games where the scoring chances never developed and others where they were many. The 30-year-old right wing had the exact same start last season (one goal in the first nine games), but finished with 41, for his fifth consecutive 40-goal season.
"It's a personal thing and you always want to do it again," Ciccarelli said. "My goal is to come back and be at that same pace as a 40-goal season."
The 1984-85 season was the last one in which Ciccarelli did not score at least 40 goals. But in that year, he broke an ankle in training camp, separated his shoulder and broke his wrist. In 1989-90, Ciccarelli was one of five Capitals to play in all 80 regular season games, but then missed the final seven playoff games with a severely sprained knee.
"The playoff injury was worse than this," Ciccarelli said. "It's not a great start for '90."
In May, he was one of four Capitals accused of sexually assaulting a 17-year-old girl in a limousine outside a Washington bar. A grand jury declined to press charges.
With this injury, Ciccarelli will be able to skate or ride a stationary bicycle to stay in shape, but that will be little consolation for a player who exerts such energy on the ice.
"I'm not a very patient person," Ciccarelli said.
Ciccarelli had been playing with left wing Michal Pivonka and center Peter Zezel. Murray was weighing options as far as new line combinations.
Druce has scored three goals in the last two games, so Murray may hestitate to move him off Dale Hunter's line with Peter Bondra, but it is a possibility. Kelly Miller and Dave Tippett -- both natural left wings -- are versatile players and may be shifted to the other side.
Ciccarelli may not have been scoring at a blistering pace, but Murray argues that just having him on the ice was helpful.
"He's a big threat," Murray said. "Dino has a presence and a reputation for scoring goals. Opponents always pay attention when Dino's out there."