Around the league in 60 seconds:
The Washington Capitals, who play the Quebec Nordiques at the Capital Centre tonight (7:35), continue to be one of the NHL's premier teams.
The Capitals, who lead the Patrick Division, are tied with the Montreal Canadiens and Detroit Red Wings for the most points (44), have scored the most goals (147), have the best road record (13-6), have the best intra-divisional record (11-4) and are second only to Detroit at home. The Caps are 9-4-0 at the Capital Centre and the Red Wings, who are 13-1-3 in their past 17 games, are 14-4-0 at Joe Louis Arena.
Washington is also first in the NHL in power-play proficiency,
with 39 goals in 163 opportunities.
The Capitals lost to the New York Rangers, 5-3, Friday night but bounced back Saturday in Pittsburgh to whip the defending Stanley Cup champion Penguins, 7-2.
"That's the great thing about this year's team," said center Mike Ridley. "We haven't had a prolonged losing streak. We lose a game and then come right back. It's very important to keep the losses to a minimum."
Who would have believed it if, last summer, someone had said that the Capitals and Red Wings, coached by the Murray brothers, Terry and Bryan, would be battling for the best record in the NHL as the regular season neared the halfway mark?
Bryan Murray, when he was coach of the Capitals, was criticized for playing a defensive style of hockey and forgetting about offense. At the moment, the only team in the league with more
goals scored than Detroit (132) is Washington.
Mel Bridgeman, general manager of the expansion Ottawa Senators, and his assistant, Jim Nill, were at Hersheypark Arena on Saturday night armed with a portable computer into which they fed data on Skipjacks and Hershey Bears players.
Bridgeman, who played for Philadelphia, Detroit, Calgary, New Jersey and Vancouver during his 14-year NHL career, said he and Nill were trying to see as many teams, both NHL and minor league, as they could.
"We're putting all the data on the players into our computer so that we will have a lot of information to fall back on when the
expansion draft happens next summer," he said.
Next Sunday's game in The Spectrum at Philadelphia with the Flyers has been switched from a 7:05 p.m. start to 2:35 p.m. The game will be carried on Channel 20 but will not be broadcast on radio.
The reason for the switch is because the Washington Redskins play the Philadelphia Eagles at Veterans Stadium, adjacent to The Spectrum, at 4 p.m.
Marvin Bush, the son of the president, was a spectator at Friday's game between the Capitals and New York Rangers in the Capital Centre.
Four Capitals draft choices are trying out for the U.S. and Canadian Junior national teams. Defenseman John Slaney and center Jeff Nelson are with Team Canada, and centers Pat
Peake and Steve Konowalchuk are with Team USA.
Los Angeles Kings center Wayne Gretzky is on an 11-game scoring streak. Last Saturday he moved into a tie for second place in all-time NHL scoring with Marcel Dionne. Both have 731 goals. Gretzky trails Gordie Howe by 70 goals for the NHL career record.
Opponent: Quebec Nordiques
Site: Capital Centre, Landover, 7:35
Radio: WCAO (600 AM), WMAL (630 AM)
Tickets: Approximately 4,000 remain
Outlook: The Capitals have won 4 of their past 6 and are 9-4 at home. Washington won the first meeting, 10-3, Nov. 10, in Quebec. The Capitals will be without D Rod Langway (broken toes) and D Shawn Chambers (knee). Quebec has D Steve Finn (wrist) and D Dan Lambert (face) back from the injured list. D Randy Velischek and RW John Kordic, a former Capital, are questionable because of the flu. D Curtis Leschyshyn, D Bryan ** Fogarty and LW Wayne Van Dorp have been sent to the AHL Halifax Citadels. C Joe Sakic (16 goals, 28 assists) and RW Nolan Owen (21-11) lead the Nordiques in scoring. Ron Tugnutt is expected to start in goal.