Ulf Dahlen opened training camp on the top line and has yet to play a regular season game. Glen Metropolit lasted one game with Adam Oates and Peter Bondra before being sent to the minors. Yogi Svejkovsky got the call for two games. Now, Washington Capitals Coach Ron Wilson said he will audition several wingers in that spot for tonight's game against Philadelphia.
There will be other lineup changes tonight as well, with Dahlen set to play his first NHL game since 1997 and defenseman Joe Reekie scheduled to return after missing two games with a lacerated pinkie finger. Call-up Alexei Tezikov will stay with the team as insurance.
Meanwhile, some in the organization wonder if former Capital Dmitri Khristich, who is negotiating with several teams, might be a good fit for the first line--a puck-carrying forward with good hands--though his petulant attitude and playoff failings have turned off many teams.
Wilson rotated his left wings in practice yesterday, and Steve Konowalchuk, off to a great start on the second line, might get the most time with the top line, with Svejkovsky a natural to join fellow young Europeans Jan Bulis and Richard Zednik on the second line. Chris Simon and Dahlen likely will get time on the top line as well.
"I may play musical left wings," Wilson said. "I'll move all the left wingers around until I find a shift where it works and then stay that way. I'll know it when I see it. . . . I think [Oates and Bondra] need somebody there who is capable of carrying the puck and forechecking. That's what the key to it is."
Wilson said his original plan was to use Dahlen on the right side and Bondra on the left but, "Peter doesn't want to play left wing, so that really made it hard for Ulf to play on the left side." Wilson said he hasn't decided which forward he will scratch to insert Dahlen.
The Capitals have pledged to bolster the offense, if need be, and Khristich's representative, Larry Kelly, said the team has expressed interest. However, club sources said last night that the team is no longer pursuing Khristich. Khristich became available when Boston exercised its "walk-away rights" when an arbitrator awarded the 71-point scorer a $2.8 million contract for this season. If Khristich accepts an offer less than 80 percent of that sum ($2.24 million), the Bruins have seven days to match it.
"Dmitri's made it very clear he would like to play in Washington, and several players on the team have expressed that they would love to have him back," Kelly said. "If Washington can get back to us in the next couple of days with a concrete offer, we'd be very, very interested."
Halverson on Rebound
Minor leaguer Trevor Halverson, who is on injured reserve for a concussion suffered in a preseason game two weeks ago, said Sunday was the first day he didn't experience headaches and he hopes to ride a stationary bike today.