- The Washington Times - Friday, October 6, 2006

The Washington Capitals expect to call up one or possibly two players for tonight’s home opener if some of the injured regulars do not respond to treatment overnight.

Coach Glen Hanlon confirmed yesterday that it was a possibility after acknowledging that four forwards, two of whom played in Thursday night’s 5-2 season-opening loss to the New York Rangers, did not take part in yesterday’s brief practice.

“We’re waiting to see how everything unfolds,” Hanlon said.

Only 10 forwards took part in yesterday’s drills. At least 11 are needed when the Caps play host to Stanley Cup champion Carolina tonight at Verizon Center.

Boyd Gordon and Brooks Laich — both centers who also play wing — were the latest to miss time, although Gordon tried to skate at the very start of the session at the Verizon Center. Both played Thursday night and did not appear to be hurt.

Already missing were wings Matt Pettinger, who is on injured reserve, and Matt Bradley, neither of whom have played. The Caps have refused to reveal either the location or severity of the injuries to any of the players.

“I would think we would have to,” Hanlon said when asked if replacements would be brought in from the farm team in Hershey. “We would have to wait and see what’s happening with these guys first but if they’re not ready we’ll need one or two.”

Hanlon already has shuffled some personnel around after the loss to the Rangers. He said the team “needs puck chasers on every line and I think [Thursday] night proved that.”

The players on the first line — Alex Ovechkin, Dainius Zubrus and Richard Zednik — were minus-4 apiece, an indication of a bad night collectively. Zednik was bumped off the line at right wing and replaced by Chris Clark, who had a career season last year playing with the other two.

“They looked good again today,” Hanlon said. “When you have success it’s hard not to play them together. I thought Clark played well [against the Rangers].”

Clark and all four of his injured teammates fill the Caps’ need for players that muck along the boards, dig out loose pucks and get them to open players who have a chance to put pucks in the net.

“We didn’t get to play much during training camp because we had a lot of injuries,” Clark said. “Today was nice, it’s the feeling we had last year.”

Another reason Clark didn’t play with the other two was that Zubrus was injured for all but the final exhibition game.

Hanlon was also looking for a way to boost scoring by inserting a sniper into Clark’s spot. At first it didn’t work and the coach inserted other wings before the first period was over in the opener.

“I’m not a guy who cares much about who he plays with,” Zubrus said. “I’m not sure if Chris would have made that big of a difference the other night. Overall as a team we didn’t play as well as we should have. But Chris is a good player, we had success last year, I’m happy to have him back on the line.”

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