The Washington Times - April 1, 2011, 02:35PM

The Capitals went into Thursday night’s game with six healthy defensemen. So when John Erskine decided to drop the gloves at the end of the first period, the thought was there immediately.

What if he gets hurt?


Well, he did, leaving the game and is now listed as day-to-day with an undisclosed injury.

“I wish he hadn’t of fought, but I never think that somebody’s gonna get hurt in a fight even though that’s really archaic thinking cause people do get hurt in a fight,” coach Bruce Boudreau said.

After Thursday night’s 4-3 overtime win, Boudreau denied that Erskine hurt his punching hand in the fight and said his departure was “precautionary.” The tune was slightly different Friday morning.

Even owner Ted Leonsis wrote that Erskine was hurt in the tussle.

“In regards to John Erskine, I wish he hadn’t answered the bell at last night’s game,” Leonsis wrote on his blog. “We have only five games left to play and John gets into a scrap against a non-conference team and sustains an injury. We are short-handed on the blue line as it is. We need him back in the lineup. He is a good player and a great teammate.”

The Caps were stuck playing with five defensemen for the second straight game. (Tuesday night they did so when Dennis Wideman left with a leg injury that turned out to be hematoma that hospitalized him). Scott Hannan and Jeff Schultz played the most minutes, with Karl Alzner and John Carlson logging plenty.

“Sometimes you’re coming up the ice and you’re looking at the bench to see if anybody’s ready for you or if they’re still catching their breath,” Alzner said.

There will be six guys starting Saturday night’s game against the Sabres as defensemen, but who the sixth player will be is yet to be determined. Boudreau conceded that Washington had several options for call-ups from the Hershey Bears but didn’t want to elaborate. Those options seem to include Brian Fahey, Patrick McNeill and Sean Collins.

On Erskine, Boudreau said: “I’d say we’ll see how he is tomorrow morning, but that’s about the extent of it. It’s definitely not long term. But it’s hard to make a decision right now.”

The coach even broached the idea of Brooks Laich playing on defense – especially since the Caps have a surplus of forwards.

“Brooks has played there before and done OK,” Boudreau said. “He’s not Sergei Fedorov back there like when we had him, but that’s certainly something that we are considering.”