- The Washington Times - Monday, October 2, 2006

With the deadline for putting players on waivers this afternoon and the deadline for submitting final rosters tomorrow afternoon, the Washington Capitals’ confusing personnel situation became even more muddled yesterday.

The Caps lost their final preseason outing to Carolina 4-2 and said after the game they have five injured players, two more than what was reported before the game started. Two of the players might have been able to play had it been the regular season, but the status of the other three is unknown.

Washington has to cut two of its 25 players by 3 p.m. tomorrow. Players to be put on waivers have to be notified by 3 p.m. today so other teams can be notified of their availability. Players who clear waivers can be reassigned at a team’s discretion.

However, players who are put on injured reserve do not count against a team’s roster, and at least two of the injured Caps (the team does not announce types or severity of injuries) might be hurt badly enough to put on seven-day injured reserve. That would leave two openings and temporarily bail the club out of a tight personnel spot.

Defenseman Brian Pothier and center Jakub Klepis were added to the list of ailing, joining center Dainius Zubrus and wings Matt Bradley and Matt Pettinger. Whether any will be available for Thursday’s season opener against the Rangers in New York is unknown.

General manager George McPhee said yesterday that “some decisions” would be made today but refused to be more specific. But when asked if he was putting any players on waivers, he said “yes.”

That may mean rookies Klepis or defenseman Mike Green or both have made the team. Neither require waivers, but if one or both stay and McPhee is asking waivers on one or more other players, the Caps will have two rookies on their roster.

McPhee said contract situations might not be the deciding factor in who makes the team.

“Last year we sent a one-way player [Lawrence Nycholat] to the minors and kept two-way players,” he said, indicating the same thing was possible.

The injury situation also might mean a reprieve, at least temporarily, for center Kris Beech and right wing Alexandre Giroux, both thought to be on the bubble, because the team is suddenly short up front.

Another development yesterday also might enter the equation. Defenseman Steve Eminger, the team’s top pick (12th overall) in 2002, played only two shifts at the start of the game before being benched after taking a bad penalty that led to two Carolina goals. He has struggled during exhibitions.

“We’ve emphasized that we’re about achievement,” coach Glen Hanlon said. “We cannot achieve if we make the same mistakes and the same mental errors we’ve done in the past.”

Hanlon also said he was not concerned that left wing Alex Ovechkin, the reigning NHL rookie of the year and first-team all-star, did not score a goal in any of his four preseason games.

“I have other things to worry about,” Hanlon said with a chuckle.

Notes — The loss snapped the Caps’ three-game winning streak. Washington finished the preseason 3-2-1. … Defensemen Jamie Heward (power play) and Ben Clymer (shorthanded) scored for the Caps. Goalie Olie Kolzig went the distance. … The Caps’ annual charity golf tournament is today at Springfield Golf and Country Club. Registration is at 11:30 a.m. and play starts 90 minutes later.

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