Washington Capitals defenseman Joe Reekie was suspended for two games by the NHL for elbowing Phoenix center Jeremy Roenick in the head in Tuesday's game.

The Coyotes were adamant that a suspension was warranted, but, after reviewing the tape, the Capitals said they believe Reekie was trying to land a shoulder check and had no intention of hurting Roenick, who left the game with a slight concussion.

"I support Joe in this," Coach Ron Wilson said. "The unfortunate thing is Joe is probably playing as well as I've seen him play."

Reekie will miss tonight's game against struggling Montreal and Saturday's game at Philadelphia and, based on his average annual salary, will forfeit $15,686 in salary. Reekie's spot in the lineup will be taken by Calle Johansson, who is ready to be activated from injured reserve (sore back) and play tonight. When Reekie returns, the Capitals likely will send defenseman Rob Zettler to the minors.

Trade Secrets General Manager George McPhee said the team is still actively seeking to trade winger Peter Bondra and is optimistic a deal will be struck sometime before the March trade deadline. The Capitals have been shopping Bondra, the second-leading goal scorer in franchise history, since he asked for a trade at the end of last season and though few appealing offers have developed, McPhee continues to speak regularly with several clubs.

"We're not interested in discussing this publicly anymore, but nothing has changed," McPhee said. "Peter made a promise to play hard--and he has--and we made a promise to trade him. That's what we intend to do. Nothing has changed."

Bondra, who leads the team in goals and points, is eligible for unrestricted free agency at the end of this season and sources said the Capitals have never talked to him about a contract extension and have no plans at this point to do so, with Bondra's salary among the reasons for that. McPhee has informed every NHL team of Bondra's availability and continues to field calls. The trade deadline might be the most likely time for a trade as Bondra could be the marquee name available, depending on whether other high-profile potential free agents re-sign or are traded before March.

Setting the Benchmark

The Capitals are in the process of purchasing a state-of-the-art portable video editor and teaching tool called the Bench Monitor, a laptop-like display that can be used during breaks in games to cut live replays and instruct players on mistakes and illustrate game tendencies. The Capitals are the first NHL team to use such a device, which is not surprising considering their primary owner, Ted Leonsis, is an executive at America Online.

The creator of the Bench Monitor, Randy Ecker, let the team borrow one of his two prototypes in preseason, knowing Wilson's interest in such things, and McPhee said the team will purchase the system, which costs about $50,000. Eventually the Bench Monitor will be mounted in the Capitals' bench area at MCI Center.

"It's a teaching tool to show people instantly if they're out of position," Wilson said. "We've used it four or five times in the course of home games to show a guy positionally what we're doing wrong.

"You can show a guy exactly what we're talking about after a play because you'll often get, 'No, I wasn't there.' Well, 'No, you were. You were 10 feet off from where you should be and that's why the play developed.' It's a nice teaching tool."

Wilson has long used computers in his coaching. He and his assistants break down each game with various statistical and editing programs and use video as much as any team in the NHL. About a month ago the team purchased a computerized portable editor, which can be taken on trips; previously the club had one such system located only at MCI Center.

Capitals vs. Montreal Canadiens

* Where: MCI Center.

* Time: 7 p.m.

* TV: HTS.

* Radio: WTEM-980, WNAV-1430.

* Tickets: Available.

* Records: Capitals--3-8-6-1, 13 points; Canadiens--5-11-2-0, 12 points.

* Probable Goalies: Washington--Olaf Kolzig (3-7-4, 2.59 goals-against average). Montreal--Jose Theodore (3-7-1, 2.50).

* Injuries: Washington--D Calle Johansson (sore back) is probable. Montreal--G Jeff Hackett (broken hand), C Saku Koivu (torn knee ligament), D Sheldon Souray (abdominal strain) are out; LW Benoit Brunet (pulled groin) and D Enrico Ciccone (back pain) are questionable.