The Washington Capitals' run of full health has come to a swift end with regulars Ken Klee and Kip Miller both out of the lineup for last night's game against the Montreal Canadiens at MCI Center. Klee missed his second straight game with back spasms while Miller has a hand injury, the result of a slash in Saturday night's game.
Slumping winger Peter Bondra, who missed Sunday's practice with a sore leg, played last night as did defenseman Sergei Gonchar, who could not practice on Sunday because of a sore foot. Coach Bruce Cassidy said he does not expect Miller or Klee to miss a significant amount of time, but their absence forced him to juggle his lines and defensive pairs.
Dainius Zubrus took Miller's spot at right wing on the top line while Ivan Ciernik skated in Zubrus's spot on the second line along with Bondra and Michael Nylander. The fourth line had a decidedly physical bent with enforcers Stephen Peat and Alex Henry both in the lineup against the Canadiens, one of the softer teams in the NHL. The checking line of Jeff Halpern, Steve Konowalchuk and Mike Grier remained intact.
Cassidy had defenseman Rick Berry in uniform for the second straight game after sitting him as a healthy scratch for nearly five weeks. Berry earned praise for his willingness to challenge Detroit's tougher players during his first game back in the lineup, something that could lead to an increased role.
"Rick Berry played well for us and tried to give us a spark," Cassidy said. "We asked him to do that for us earlier in the year."
Forward Josh Green was a healthy scratch, and defenseman Jean-Francois Fortin (back spasms) is feeling better and could be activated from the injured reserve list shortly.
Clinic at Fort Dupont
Grier and Jason Doig will conduct a clinic for local youth hockey players at Fort Dupont Ice Rink today to celebrate Black History Month. Grier and Doig are two of a growing number of black players in the NHL. Doig, Grier and Berry will host a street hockey clinic and scrimmage game with area children at the Joseph H. Coles Building on Thursday. . . . Washington's top minor league affiliate, the Portland Pirates, will conclude a franchise-record eight-game road trip on Wednesday night. The Pirates are 3-2-0-2 thus far on the trip. . . . Montreal defenseman Patrice Brisebois returned to the lineup last night for the first time since having an irregular heartbeat diagnosed on Feb. 6.