The Washington Capitals, with less than a week's practice, will open their National Hockey League exhibition season against the New York Rangers at the Baltimore Arena tonight.
The 7:35 contest will be the first of two local exhibition games for the Capitals, who play the Philadelphia Flyers in a Sept. 29 doubleheader that also sends the Baltimore Skipjacks against the Hershey Bears in an American Hockey League exhibition at the Arena.
Washington and the Rangers, members of the Patrick Division, will play again tomorrow night at the Knickerbocker Arena in Albany, N.Y., and the Caps will meet the Hartford Whalers at the Scope in Norfolk, Va., Sunday.
The Capitals, who have trained for five days in Lake Placid, N.Y., will return to the U.S. Olympic facility after the weekend games.
Washington will be without several top players from last season's team that lost to the Boston Bruins in the conference championship series.
Defenseman Scott Stevens was signed as a free agent by the St. Louis Blues, and high-scoring right wing Geoff Courtnall was traded to the Blues for center Peter Zezel and defenseman Mike Lalor. Left wing John Tucker was dealt to the Buffalo Sabres.
Goalie Don Beaupre, who has not signed a contract, and defenseman Kevin Hatcher, who wants to renegotiate, have not arrived in training camp.
New faces on the Capitals, in addition to Zezel and Lalor, include right wing Peter Bondra and defenseman Jiri Vykoukal, both from Czechoslovakia, and right wing Thomas Sjogren from Sweden. None of the newcomers will play tonight.
Terry Murray, beginning his first full season as Capitals head coach, said he plans to use veteran Mike Liut, acquired late last season from the Whalers, and rookie Jim Hrivnak, who played most of the last season with the Skipjacks, in goal tonight.
The Rangers, whom the Capitals defeated in five games for the Patrick Division title last season, will dress such players as former Capital Mike Gartner, Paul Broten, Kris King, Kelly Kisio, Kevin Miller, Brian Mullen, Bernie Nicholls, John Ogrodnick, Darren Turcotte, Brian Leetch, Jeff Bloembverg, James Patrick, David Shaw, Normand Rochefort and goalies Mike Richter, John Vanbiesbrouck and Mark Laforest.