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Washington Capitals

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Ron Wilson


C - Adam Oates, Jan Bulis, Andrei Nikolishin, Michal Pivonka, Dale Hunter. LW - Joe Juneau, Brian Bellows, Richard Zednik, Steve Konowalchuk, Yogi Svejkovsky. RW - Peter Bondra, Craig Berube, Kelly Miller, Mike Eagles, James Black. D - Calle Johansson, Sergei Gonchar, Joe Reekie, Ken Klee, Enrico Ciccone. G - Olaf Kolzig, Rick Tabaracci.


Tom Chorske (abdomen/groin, 3-5 weeks); Chris Simon (shoulder surgery, out for season); Jeff Toms (abdomen, 4-6 weeks); Dmitri Mironov (back spasms, indefinite); Mark Tinordi (broken ankle, out for season); Joe Juneau (sore ankle, day-to-day).




2/24   Phoenix          L 2-1
2/27   at Boston        L 4-3
2/28   Pittsburgh       W 4-3
3/02   at Tampa Bay     W 8-2
3/04   NY Rangers       L 4-2
3/06   Edmonton         W 4-3
3/09   Colorado         L 3-2 OT


Southeast Division  GP   W   L   T   PTS   GF   GA   
  Carolina          65  29  23  13    71  168  158  
  Florida           63  23  23  17    63  165  170  
  Washington        63  27  31   5    59  167  168  
  Tampa Bay         63  15  43   5    35  136  230


by Jason Sheehan, Washington Correspondent

Playoff Hopes on Life Support

The Washington Capitals are in danger of becoming the fourth Cup finalists in NHL history to miss the playoffs in the previous and following seasons. The New York Rangers last accomplished the feat in 1950; the era before expansion.

Following a devastating 3-2 overtime loss to Colorado Tuesday at a snowy MCI Center, the Capitals (27-32-5, 59 points) trail the Boston Bruins (28-26-10, 66 points) by seven points for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

Washington has 18 games left and must pass three teams in the standings to make the playoffs. The odds of that happening are not good, especially with the Capitals slumping in the middle of a five-game homestand, the longest of the season.

The last week, in particular, has been devastating. The Capitals, despite out-shooting all opponents, lost must-win games to Boston, 4-3, and saw a late 2-1 lead evaporate into a 4-2 loss in a home game against the Rangers, who played without Wayne Gretzky.

Colorado defenseman Sandis Ozolinsh's back-breaking goal 19 seconds into overtime may be the straw that broke Washington's spirit. However, coach Ron Wilson dispels that notion.

"We outplayed them, we outshot them, 2-1," said Wilson. "You've got to give their goaltender (Craig Billington) credit. He made a lot of great saves, especially in the last 10 minutes, and we made a couple of mistakes defensively. ... We'll bounce back. We always bounce back."

Defenseman Enrico Ciccone appears to be more discouraged.

"It's a cheesy goal," said Ciccone, disagreeing with the notion that good teams make their own luck. "It's always that kind of goal that happens. It hit off [Calle Johansson's] stick and caught Olie (Kolzig) off-balance. It's too bad, Olie didn't deserve that."

Washington has had a few sparks in the last two weeks. The Capitals manhandled Tampa Bay, 8-2, and collected wins over Pittsburgh and Edmonton. But playing under .500 will not get the Capitals closer to Boston, Florida and the Rangers.

Three of Washington's last four defeats have been decided by one goal.

With the trading deadline two weeks away, general manager George McPhee may be forced to hold the fire-sale he postponed in January when the Capitals climbed back into playoff contention.

Left wing Joe Juneau and defenseman Mark Tinordi are Washington's most prized unrestricted free agents at season's end. Washington would receive no compensation if Juneau and Tinordi are lost to free agency. That is why the Capitals will likely make a trade. They would rather get something in return from another club than lose their top players to free agency.

Detroit was once rumored as a possible destination for Tinordi, but it backed out when Tinordi broke his ankle Feb. 22. He is expected to miss the remainder of the season.

Juneau, on the other hand, seems to be the most likely Capital to be traded if McPhee decides to pull the plug on the season. Rumors have Juneau going to several teams, including Ottawa along with teammate Craig Berube for Igor Kravchuk or to San Jose for rookie Marco Sturm.

Keep in mind, however, that rumors often come from unspecified sources. McPhee may opt to sign both Juneau and Tinordi this summer.

Capitals Clipboard

Calle Johansson broke Rod Langway's team record for most games played by a defenseman March 4 by dressing for his 727th game...

Goaltender Olie Kolzig has started 18 consecutive games. However, he is starting to show signs of fatigue, allowing more rebounds and soft goals than usual. But there is no rest in sight for Kolzig. Wilson said last month that backup Rick Tabaracci will sit for the rest of the season.

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