Canucks scout calls Capitals best team he's seen this season

December 04, 1991|By James H. Jackson

Around the league in 60 seconds:

Noel Price, former Baltimore Clipper who played for 14 seasons in the NHL with the New York Rangers, Montreal Canadiens, Toronto Maple Leafs and other teams, is now a scout for the Vancouver Canucks.

Despite the Washington Capitals' showing against the New York Islanders (3-2 and 8-1 losses) over the weekend, Price still says the Capitals are the best team he has seen this season.

"They have good offense and a solid defense. Al Iafrate and Sylvain Cote have been good additions on defense and so has Randy Burridge on offense. Washington can beat you so many ways."

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The high-scoring Capitals have 120 goals in 26 games, 12 more than the Pittsburgh Penguins. Capitals right wing Mike Ridley thinks he knows the reason for this scoring surge.

"In the past, when we had only two or three guys scoring for us, the other teams could key on those guys and pretty much shut us down. Now we have so many guys scoring goals that it's impossible for our opponents to try and shut someone down."

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Center Bobby Smith of the Minnesota North Stars has scored the 1,000th point of his NHL career. He is the 33rd player to achieve this mark and the 11th active player with 1,000 or more points.

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Don't be surprised if the Philadelphia Flyers have a new head coach by the end of the week. Reports out of the City of Brotherly Love have Flyers president Jay Snider very close to removing Paul Holmgren and replacing him with former Calgary Flames coach Terry Crisp.

Snider reportedly wants someone to be tougher on the players than Holmgren has been.

"I know nothing about any coaching change," said Hershey Bears coach Mike Eaves. "I talked to Jay and we did not discuss the Flyers coaching situation. I talked to Holmgren on the phone and he said the team is playing much better now. The Flyers have a lot of injuries and that has hurt the team."

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The Capitals are the most improved team in the NHL over the first quarter of the season. A year ago, the Capitals were 10-10-0 after the first 20 games. This year, they were 15-5-0, an increase of 10 points.

The Capitals' Burridge and the Quebec Nordiques' Owen Nolan were the most-improved offensive players after the first 20 games, 17 points better than a year ago. Burridge was 6-20-26, up from 5-4-9 last year. Nolan was 17-2-19, up from 1-1-2 last year. Washington's Michal Pivonka was third, 14 points better than a year ago. Pivonka was 8-19-26, up from 5-7-12 last year.

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Washington may have scored the most points and have the best record in the league (tied with Montreal), but the All-Star balloting does not reflect this. No Capitals player is among the top five in votes for the Wales Conference team in the Jan. 18 game scheduled for the Philadelphia Spectrum.

Left wing Kelly Miller is 13th among the forwards, Kevin Hatcher is 12th among defensemen and Don Beaupre is ninth among goalies.

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The Capitals' game with the Flyers, Dec. 22 at the Spectrum, has been switched from a 7:05 start to a 2:35 p.m. start. The Washington Redskins play the Philadelphia Eagles at 4 p.m. the same day in Veterans Stadium, which is adjacent to the Spectrum

The move was made to ease the traffic expected for both games. Because of the football conflict, the game will not be carried on radio.

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