Caps' prospects cram for final exams


Time will run out for some prospects in the Washington Capitals' organization tomorrow evening at the Arena.

After the doubleheader with the Philadelphia Flyers' organization complete, the Caps' brass is expected to make the tough decisions of who will go where for next weekend's openers.

Skipjacks coach Robbie Laird said nothing is finalized and that several players still have a shot as Caps coach Terry Murray and general manager David Poile decide on rosters.

"Right now Terry is still using five lines and 10 defensemen," said Laird, who was with the remainder of the players, presumably Skipjacks players, yesterday in Mount Vernon, Va. "As for [tomorrow], I'll be using everyone I've got, almost all of the rookies, just to give them one last chance to be evaluated."

The Caps, who tied 2-2 with the Flyers in Philadelphia last night, are in the midst of a stretch of four games in four nights, a rigorous feat that won't be matched during the regular season. Tonight they travel to Richmond to face New Jersey before tomorrow's game against Philadelphia at the Arena. The Jacks practice again today and will face Hershey tomorrow afternoon at the Arena.

The one thing that has changed is the defensive unit with the loss of Neil Sheehy last Thursday to a broken ankle.

With Kevin Hatcher still holding out, it appears two of the five candidates for the Caps -- Chris Felix, Mark Ferner, Kent Paynter, Bill Houlder and Bobby Babcock -- will make the team.

"We were all hoping that Kevin would be back by now," Laird said. "It would certainly help the Skipjacks as well as the Capitals. But David [Poile] is doing all he can do and we are behind him 100 percent in the negotiations."

Asked if there has been internal pressure to get Hatcher and goalie Don Beaupre back, Laird said, "It's hard for me to say anything because I don't know what they're asking for."

Currently, among the goalies, Byron Dafoe, Mike Liut and Jim Hrivnak are working with the Caps and Shawn Simpson is with the Skipjacks. Olie Kolzig is still nursing a sore shoulder.

Tomorrow's doubleheader begins with the Bears and Jacks at 4 p.m. and the Caps and Flyers will meet at 7:30.

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