Dino Ciccarelli, who has been out of the Washington Capitals lineup for six weeks with a fractured thumb, could be ready to play Wednesday in Pittsburgh.
"I think he's real close," Coach Terry Murray said after yesterday's practice. "He said he's not 100 percent yet, but the wrist feels good and the doctor told him he has the green light."
The thumb was hurt when New Jersey's Laurie Boschman slashed Ciccarelli late in a game on Oct. 20. Ciccarelli had surgery two days later. He has been skating with the team the last several weeks, doing some drills without a glove on the injured right hand. Last week doctors removed a pin from the thumb.
He was the Capitals' top goal-scorer last season with 41. He had one goal and four assists in the nine games before the injury.
Defenseman Neil Sheehy also is mending well, perhaps amazingly. When he broke a bone in his left leg and ankle Sept. 20, doctors expected him to be out three to four months. But he skated yesterday, 2 1/2 months after the injury.
"I'm now officially day-to-day," he said, adding he didn't feel any pain in the first workout. He won't be ready to play for probably another week. When he is ready, he isn't necessarily going back in the lineup.
Center Mike Ridley, who missed Saturday's 3-1 victory over the Islanders because of flu, didn't practice yesterday.Goalies in Flux
Goalie Mike Liut, who has not dressed the last two games because of a strained groin muscle, did practice, but still has some pain. "He would rather keep skating and get the blood through the muscle," Murray said.
Goalie Jim Hrivnak, who injured his right knee Nov. 24, was reexamined.