Washington Capitals winger Jaromir Jagr skated briefly yesterday at practice but was again unable to take part in drills because of a broken bone in his wrist, an injury he suffered on Saturday. Jagr said the pain has subsided somewhat, but he still cannot shoot and said he is unsure he can play Friday when the Capitals host the Los Angeles Kings.
Coach Bruce Cassidy said he does not expect his leading scorer back until early next week. Jagr, however, said he would reevaluate his status after today's practice.
"I didn't try to do too much today, I just wanted to skate so I could keep my conditioning," said Jagr, who sat out Monday's 2-1 overtime victory against Philadelphia. "It's better, that's for sure. But I can't say how it is because I did not do anything. It's smart not to do anything right now, just not use it and rest because we don't have any games. That way it is going to get better."
Two other injured Capitals -- center Kip Miller (hand) and defenseman Brendan Witt (sore ribs) -- are also unlikely to play on Friday, according to Cassidy. Miller skated, but did not participate fully in drills; Witt did not practice.
Meantime, newly acquired winger Sergei Berezin, whom the Capitals picked up at Tuesday's trade deadline from Chicago for a fourth-round pick in 2004, did not arrive in time for yesterday's practice at MCI Center. Berezin was driving from Chicago to Washington, and said he plans to practice with the team today.
"I see this trade as a good opportunity for me," Berezin said from his mobile phone. "We had kind of lost hope in Chicago, but now I'm playing for a team that is going to the playoffs. It pumps you up for sure.
"I'm thinking about which players I'm going to play with. I'm just going to play my game. If [Cassidy] plays me with Jagr, that would be great. But if he wants me on the second or third line, that's fine too."
Berezin is not the rugged defenseman the Capitals sought to bolster their sagging blueline, but as Cassidy put it: "You can never have too many goal scorers."
"Every coach in the league wants another defenseman," Cassidy added. "But [Berezin] is a veteran guy and good penalty killer, too."
Berezin, who has averaged 25 goals a year over five NHL seasons, will likely play on a makeshift scoring line alongside Dainius Zubrus and Robert Lang, at least while Jagr and Miller are sidelined. Berezin plays a European brand of hockey similar to Zubrus and Lang, who are strong skaters, imaginative passers and slick stick-handlers.
Berezin played briefly with Capitals center Michael Nylander earlier this season when both were members of the Blackhawks.
"I only played [in Chicago] for training camp and the first nine games, but I can say that [Berezin] is a goal scorer," Nylander said. "He likes to go to the net, and when he's open he's going to take a shot. He's very fast and can get through holes" in the defense.
Goaltender Olaf Kolzig added: "Berezin is a shifty player and has a quick release. From a goaltender's perspective, that makes him hard to stop."
With Witt probably out on Friday, the defensive pairings may also see some changes. Cassidy will likely pair Jean Francois Fortin with Calle Johansson -- the two were paired together during yesterday's practice. Fortin, however, has not played in an NHL game since Dec. 30, and only played in the minors for a brief spell in January.
"I'll be ready," Fortin said. "I worked hard the last two months, so if they have to put me in I'll be okay. I'm excited to play because I've been waiting a long time."