-- Washington Capitals winger Jaromir Jagr, who has missed two weeks with a broken bone in his wrist, practiced today without a cast and said he expects to return to the lineup sometime during this six-game road trip, which concludes next Saturday.
Jagr did not play in tonight's game against the Edmonton Oilers at Skyreach Centre, although left wing Kip Miller returned after missing seven games with a hand injury. Miller was inserted into team captain Steve Konowalchuk's spot on the checking line as Konowalchuk missed the game with a laceration on the top of his foot. Konowalchuk tried to participate in the pregame skate, but was unable to push off and accelerate without severe discomfort. Konowalchuk will try to play Sunday.
Jagr spent considerable time alone on the ice today, working on his stickhandling and skating, and is unlikely to play Sunday. Jagr said doctors told him the injury could take up to six weeks to fully heal, but he expects to play next week.
"They took the cast off and my wrist is kind of weak," Jagr said. "It's going to take me a while to be able to shoot. . . . But I think I can play on this trip."
Keeping It Together
Coach Bruce Cassidy opted to keep his other three lines intact for tonight's game and also continued his experiment with two new defensive pairs. Second-year defenseman Jean-Francois Fortin is making strides, returning to the lineup last week after a 10-week absence, and Cassidy likes the pairing of Fortin and Brendan Witt. Jason Doig is also playing well in Witt's normal spot alongside Calle Johansson, which gives the team better depth and allows Cassidy to distribute the minutes more evenly.
"J.F. is coming on and he sat and waited for a long time and now he's getting that opportunity," Cassidy said. "And Doig and Calle are a good pair and I think this is good for Witter to help make J.F. a better guy.
"Like Calle, [Witt is] an older guy and part of that responsibility is to make guys around you better and I think they can handle that. They're good people."
Bondra Turns 900
Winger Peter Bondra played his 900th game in the NHL, and 900th for Washington, tonight. . . . Defenseman Ken Klee was fined $1,000 for his hit on Calgary's Jarome Iginla Thursday night. . . .
General Manager George McPhee spent the past two days scouting Washington's junior prospects in Western Canada. He watched the opening game of the series between Calgary and Red Deer on Friday; Red Deer's top player is 2002 first-round pick Boyd Gordon, while Calgary defenseman Patrick Wellar, selected in 2001) also plays for Calgary. Gordon, who made a seamless shift to center this season, could be in Washington next season. McPhee traveled to watch defensive prospect Nathan Paetsch (taken 58th overall in 2001) and winger Owen Fussey (90th overall in 2001) play in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, tonight before rejoining the Capitals in Vancouver on Sunday. . . .
Cassidy is still undecided if he will use backup goalie Sebastien Charpentier for Sunday's game.