BOSTON -- His right arm in a sling and his shoulder in drumming pain, Andy Brickley managed a laugh amid his lament.
What happened, someone asked -- had he been caught with his hand out, looking for a pay raise?
"Yeah, exactly," said the Bruins' newfound scorer, "and they sent a guy after me."
Humor aside, Brickley's woes only added to Boston's ever-growing list of perpetual bumps and bruises. Even before going to be examined by team physician Bert Zarins Monday, Brickley figured he would be sidelined at least seven to 10 days. Zarins, concerned that Brickley might have suffered a torn rotator cuff, scheduled the veteran forward for a magnetic resonance imaging examination yesterday..
"I'd say he's a little on the concerned side," said Brickley, reached at home after the exam. "If it's a tear in the rotator, that's an automatic operation and I'd be out something like four months. If it's a strain, that's open-ended, but I'd say 7-10 days at a minimum. I don't even want to think operation."
In the closing moments of Saturday's 5-4 OT win over Hartford, Brickley's shoulder got banged, and by Monday morning he was still one hurting hockey player.
"I have no idea how this happened," said Brickley, who will be scratched from Boston's top line tonight when the Bruins face the Sabres at Buffalo Auditorium. "I just remember it was my last shift, in overtime, and I'd have to look at the tapes to know what happened."
He knew his pain, though, and that was enough. Brickley heaped ice over his shoulder for the drive back to Boston Saturday night, kept up the chill much of Sunday, but was still in pain early Monday afternoon. Gone was his sizzling scoring touch that produced 8 goals and 21 points in his 12 games since being recalled from the Maine Mariners. Gone was his wide smile and the light step of the confident scorer.
"Just my luck," said Brickley. "I just start to get it going better, and something happens."
Just what happened, Brickley can't remember. He only recalls skating to the Boston bench, just as Pat Verbeek committed his costly slashing penalty, with his shoulder already stinging with pain.
"This is deep," said Brickley. "I can't raise my arm over my head. It could be acute bursitis. It's acute, anyway, whatever it is, and I'd guess I'd be out 7-10 days if it is bursitis. I'm hoping it's not something more severe, maybe a rotator cuff injury or something."
Brickley has been the consistent left-wing anchor on Boston's most potent offensive line, with Rosie Ruzicka in the middle and Steve Leach on right wing. With Brickley sidelined, Bob Carpenter practiced on that line in Monday's Garden workout. Carpenter would be the natural to fill in, but he has been hindered by a sore left knee and also might have to sit out against the Sabres.
"We'll put our lines together when we know who's able to play," said coach Rick Bowness, who will have Lyndon Byers and Dave Thomlinson -- both called up from Maine -- available for duty at the Aud. "We'll see what's healthy and what's not."
Brickley's 1990-91 season came to an end last February with an injury to the same shoulder, a third-degree separation.
Opponent: New Jersey Devils
Site: Meadowlands Arena, East Rutherford, N.J., 7:35
Radio: WCAO (600 AM), WMAL (630 AM)
Outlook: Washington has beaten New Jersey, 6-5 and 5-1, this season. The Capitals have won 4 in a row and 7 of their past 8 games and are 9-0-0 against Patrick Division rivals. They lead the NHL in goals (96) and have the best record (15-4-0). D Rod Langway has a broken nose but should play. RW Jeff Greenlaw has been assigned to the Skipjacks. New Jersey has recalled D Chris Kiene from AHL Utica. RW John MacLean (knee) and LW Zdeno Ciger (wrist) are out. LW Peter Stastny leads the Devils in scoring (10 goals, 14 assists). LW Randy Burridge (6, 19) leads Washington.