- The Washington Times - Monday, January 26, 2004

Capitals defenseman Josef Boumedienne finished last season and started this season in Washington, but the 26-year-old Swede’s deficiencies in his own end had him heading back to the minors Oct.29.

Things didn’t get much better for Boumedienne once he reached Portland of the American Hockey League. Boumedienne soon suffered an ankle injury that sidelined him for eight weeks. But nine days ago Boumedienne was recalled. He didn’t score in the next day’s 4-3 victory over Pittsburgh, but he dished out a gorgeous assist on Trent Whitfield’s goal in the 3-2 loss to Toronto on Wednesday.

And when Sergei Gonchar, the NHL’s top scoring defenseman, separated his left shoulder in Friday’s 4-1 loss at Florida, Boumedienne suddenly was Washington’s only true puck-moving defenseman. He played 19:25 against the Panthers, 6:11 more than he averaged against the Penguins and Maple Leafs. Gonchar is expected to be out two-to-four weeks.

“Of course I’m very happy to be back, but I don’t really know what to expect,” said Boumedienne, who was scratched because of a stomach virus right before the game.

Coach Glen Hanlon, who moved up from assistant when Bruce Cassidy was fired Dec.10, wants to re-instill the confidence he believes Boumedienne lost after the demotion.

“We just want Boomer to move the puck the way that we know he can,” Hanlon said. “We need those skills here. And we’re working together on his defense in his own zone.”

The Caps need those skills because their five other healthy defensmen have combined for just nine goals and 30 points. And Portland doesn’t have a defenseman with more than 10 points.

Carter is back

Last night’s game against Philadelphia was the first for new Caps right wing Anson Carter since he was acquired from the New York Rangers on Friday for All-Star right wing Jaromir Jagr. Carter, who had 10 goals and seven assists in 43 games for New York, began his career with the Caps in 1996. He had three goals and two assists in 19 games before being part of the big trade with Boston that also sent goalie Jim Carey and center Jason Allison to the Bruins in exchange for goalie Bill Ranford, center Adam Oates and right wing Rick Tocchet. Carter, who wore No.33 in his first tour of duty in Washington, has donned the No.22 that became available when captain Steve Konowalchuk was traded to Colorado in October.

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