- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 16, 2001

The Washington Capitals close out their five-game road swing tonight playing Los Angeles at Staples Center, where the Kings are winless in three games this season.
The Caps are expected to get some good news from the medical staff, with burly defenseman Brendan Witt expected back from a charley horse that forced him to leave a game against the New York Rangers in the third period last week.
But the other medical case remains the same for the struggling Caps they still have no idea when superstar Jaromir Jagr will be back. Jagr was injured in the first period of the same Rangers game and left under his own power, but remains day-to-day.
"Will he play [against the Kings]? I don't think so," Washington coach Ron Wilson said yesterday. "He may show up [today] thinking he's a little bit better and closer to being ready. But we'll just have to wait. It's just day-to-day and that's all I can tell you."
There was some slight indication yesterday that the situation has improved. Jagr put on skates and tested his leg but did not skate with the team during its hour-plus workout at Staples Center.
Jagr was injured late in the first period after retrieving a loose puck and heading back into the Rangers zone. New York defenseman Igor Ulanov mugged Jagr from behind, slew-footing him in the process. Ulanov and Rangers defenseman Dale Purinton were each suspended for seven games for their actions in Wednesday's game.
Witt, who has had trouble with his legs all season, was constantly being whacked during the game and finally was taken out after he was also slew-footed for what Wilson said was the third time during the contest, won by the Caps 5-2.
The Caps spent yesterday's longer-than-usual practice session working on simplifying their game, getting back to the basic hard-work schemes that have made them successful in the past. Washington has lost its last two games and not been impressive in either.
"We worked on playing the way we're supposed to play," Wilson said.
Despite having a veteran team that spent all of last season together, the Caps have at times looked remarkably unfamiliar with each other this campaign, and even long-time defensive partners have failed to know where their mate was and what he was doing, with opposition goals resulting.
"We won two games and dominated the games where we played that way," Wilson said when asked if the team was having trouble getting back to the basic defensive system. "We've just been a little inconsistent, that's all. You have to play hard, it's that simple and there's no way around it."
What Wilson didn't say was that the Caps might be falling into a pattern that has bothered them in the past taking lesser teams for granted, being outworked and losing. It happened in Anaheim and again in Phoenix Saturday night.
The Caps are home Friday against Montreal before hitting the road again.

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