vs. Vancouver

Tonight, 7

WBDC-50, WTEM-980 Washington Capitals defenseman Jason Doig was suspended two games for a kneeing incident in Thursday's game at Carolina and will begin that penalty tonight, sitting out the game against Vancouver at MCI Center. Doig will also miss Tuesday's contest against Tampa Bay.

Doig knocked Carolina forward Kevyn Adams out of Thursday's game late in the first period, cutting to his right to impede Adams and making knee-to-knee contact. Adams suffered a ligament strain and will miss three to four weeks.

Any time a player hits another in the knee the league office takes notice, and Carolina winger Eric Cole immediately pounced on Doig after the incident, the usual reaction to such a play.

Carolina Coach Peter Laviolette called it "a dirty hit," which landed Doig, who will sacrifice $4,722.22 in salary, a two-minute penalty for tripping.

"I think it was a good attempt to hit [Adams] that just got away from him a little bit," Washington General Manager George McPhee said. "The replays showed that although I really don't think there was any attempt to have knee-on-knee contact, that is what occurred, according to the league. We thought Jason put his foot out a little bit and it was more of a tripping motion more than anything else. The league could have had [a replay] angle that we didn't see."

Doig, who turned 27 on Thursday, was playing his best hockey of the season in recent weeks, returning to the consistently abrasive style that solidified his NHL career last season after years of toiling in the minors. Doig knocked New York center Eric Lindros out of Wednesday's game with a violent yet clean hit -- giving Lindros his eighth concussion and putting his future in doubt -- and has formed a punishing duo with new defensive partner Brendan Witt.

McPhee made a point to tell Doig, a former teammate of Lindros's, that he must continue to play that way to be productive, even in the aftermath of recent events.

"We don't want Jason to change his style," McPhee said. "He's a difficult guy to play against when he plays this hard and hits this often and when you play that way from time to time these things happen, but for him to be effective he has to play that way.

"He's gotten back to playing the way he did last year, being physical all the time and really disrupting what the forwards on the other team want to do. When he is competing like that he's very hard to play against."

Doig's suspension, coupled with long-term injuries to Sergei Gonchar and John Gruden, has left the Capitals with just five healthy defensemen, and McPhee said he will make a decision today on who is recalled from Portland. There is a nearly full complement of defensemen available from that affiliate, with only Nolan Yonkman and J.F. Fortin out with lengthy injuries.

The Capitals, who were given yesterday off by Coach Glen Hanlon, will try to win their third straight game tonight, something they have not done all season. But it will now be increasingly difficult to stop the fast and skilled Canucks without Gonchar or Doig in the lineup and with another inexperienced journeyman thrust into the lineup.

-- Jason La Canfora