- The Washington Times - Sunday, December 24, 2006

THE WASHINGTON TIMES

There are few teams in the NHL more in need of the two-day holiday rest period that begins today than the Washington Capitals. Unfortunately, two days are not nearly enough to cure what ails this club.

The injury-riddled Caps limped into last night’s game in Toronto against the equally ravaged Maple Leafs. This time, at least, Washington had enough players in their proper positions, a problem they encountered in Friday night’s 4-1 loss to New Jersey.

Defenseman Lawrence Nycholat was called up from Hershey for last night’s game, giving Washington two call-ups playing defense with 10 games of combined NHL experience. Jeff Schultz made his NHL debut against the Devils.

After going through the first third of the season with few injuries, the Caps are now suffering their fair share. Four players are out long-term and a fifth is suffering from a flu bug that refuses to go away. Through last night, the Caps have lost 66 man-games to injury.

Right wing Richard Zednik (abdominal surgery) and left wing Matt Bradley (hand surgery) are sidelined indefinitely. Defensemen John Erskine and Bryan Muir both have been diagnosed with bone fractures in their feet and also are out indefinitely. Defenseman Shaone Morrisonn has missed two games because of the flu, and there is no guarantee he will be available for the Caps’ game at Buffalo on Tuesday night.

Aside from Nycholat and Schultz, Washington called up left wing Alexander Giroux, but the team did not need him last night and he was their lone healthy scratch. The Caps were forced to go with 13 forwards and just five defensemen against the Devils.

Nycholat, 27, leads all American Hockey League defensemen in points (28) and assists (25), is tied for second among scorers in Hershey and owns a lofty plus-14 defensive rating. He had played nine games for the New York Rangers in the 2003-04 season.

— Dave Fay

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