Seen and heard last night at Continental Airlines Arena in East Rutherford, N.J.:
MORE MOVES The conditioning assignments for wings Stephen Peat and Andreas Salomonsson became official today with the two players reporting to the Portland (Maine) Pirates.
Peat has been out with a hand injury since early November and needs work before he can play with the Caps again. Salomonsson, picked up off waivers from New Jersey earlier in the season, has been ineffective when he did get into the lineup. He was recalled Dec. 11 after being sent down once before but has just one assist in 21 games this season.
Right wing Dainius Zubrus, who had surgery on his right hand to remove a bone spur, is the only Cap medical scratch right now. He has been skating but is thought to be at least a week away from playing. Defenseman Rick Berry and center Glen Metropolit were the healthy scratches last night, the latter for the eighth time in the last nine games.
MADE IT By game time, approaching 8:15, some fans who had planned to attend the Caps-Devils game still hadn’t made it into the arena, which is part of the huge Meadowlands Sports Complex that also includes Giants Stadium.
The New York Giants played host to the Philadelphia Eagles yesterday afternoon, a game that started late in a stadium where every seat was filled and it seems every patron brought two cars. Shortly after the game ended, the walkway leading up to the hockey rink was still blocked by parked cars.
“The legs still work,” said left wing Steve Konowalchuk, who reported that the players abandoned the stranded team bus and walked the last 200 yards into the facility. The New Jersey players had considerably more trouble getting to work because most drive their own car to the arena.
The starting time for the football game was at 1:30 because of television. The Devils tried to accommodate the change by moving their starting time back an hour, but there were still huge traffic jams as the puck was being dropped.
ALL-STAR VOTING It appears that if the Caps have more than one representative in Florida at the annual exhibition in early February, it might be defenseman Sergei Gonchar. He was fifth in voting among defensemen in the Eastern Conference with 65,506. Jaromir Jagr was the easy leader among wings with 102,738 votes in the latest tabulation.
The leader in both conferences was Pittsburgh owner/captain/center Mario Lemieux with 130,055 votes.
HAIL, SCOTTY Another milestone for Washington-St. Louis-New Jersey defenseman Scott Stevens was reached, although this one seems slightly contrived. Two nights ago in MCI Center, Stevens tied retired Detroit center Alex Delvecchio for sixth place on the all-time games-played list with 1,549; last night Stevens moved into sixth place by himself at 1,550.
The contrived part is this: Last night Stevens was honored for playing his 1,000th game as a Devil but that total included playoff games (129), which normally are not counted toward milestones of that nature.
For the record, the Caps’ top draft pick in 1982 played 601 games for Washington before opting for restricted free agency.