FANDOM | November 10, 2008

The Washington Capitals will face off tonight at the Verizon Center against the Tampa Bay Lightning.  It’s a division game after a Sunday Carolina loss, putting the Caps in good position to jump to a tie for the Southeast Division lead.  If that isn’t enough excitement for the Sea of Red, it also marks the return of 18 year Capital veteran Olie Kolzig to the Verizon Center, but this time, as an opposing goalie with the Lightning.

Mike Wise explain the weirdness of tonight for Capitals fans…

Olie the Goalie comes home tonight, to the franchise that drafted him 19 years ago, to the city where he minded the net for 16 seasons.

For longtime Capitals loyalists, Verizon Center is going to have the same awkward feel of Patrick Ewing returning to Madison Square Garden in a green-and-gold Sonics uniform. Watching Olie grab his water bottle off the back of the visitor’s net is essentially being from Green Bay and having no idea what to feel when Brett Favre drops back for the Jets

Indeed.  After 16 years between the pipes, it will be a strange sight to see, an odd experience, and a surreal moment when Kolzig skates on the ice , but in the opposite net.  Imagine Cal Ripken Jr. taking the field at shortstop for Boston, Toronto, or New York.  Imagine Darrell Green lining up opposite the Redskins with the Cowboys, Giants, or Eagles.  For Caps fans, this is exactly what it amounts to, a draft pick some 19 years ago that hammered down the Washington goal tending for nearly all of my time as a Caps fan.  Now, tonight, as weird as it seems, I will be hoping to see Olie’s skills somehow subside, somehow Olie just is off the game, just for one night.

Kolzig deserved a better ending than a benching at the end of last season and an eventual divorce from the club, and so did the people who saw him intimidate with his 6-foot-3, 220-pound frame all those years, crouching purposefully as he cleared the crease of players and pucks. Everyone deserved better than seeing Olie the Goalie skate slowly around the ice by himself after the Capitals’ wrenching Game 7 loss to Philadelphia in last spring’s first round. He stayed long after everyone had gone to the locker room and cups and pizza boxes flew from angry Caps fans, because he knew it was over.

Agreed.  The signing of Cristobal Huet may have fueled the Capitals playoff appearance, but there is no doubt, given the facts and realities, the Washington Capitals front office mismanaged the way it handled the longest reigning Capital.  I am not going to be too overly critical, because many franchises do ultimately mishandle this stuff, but Olie certainly did deserve better and handled like most of us would have expected Olie to, quietly and with grace, just like the asset he was to the Washington community.

The Bleacher Report has a good read on Alexander Semin and his progress as a player and his recent comments on Sidney Crosby of Pittsburgh.  In case you missed it, here are those comments on Crosby that will likely fuel and already intense Washington/Pittsburgh rivalry . . .

“What’s so special about Crosby? I don’t see anything special there. Yes, he does skate well, has a good head, a good pass. But there’s nothing else. Even if you compare him to Patrick Kane from Chicago, Kane is a much more interesting player. The way he moves, his deking abilities, his thinking on the ice and his anticipation of the play is so superb.

Game Preview for tonight’s division showdown with the Olie Kolzig led Tampa Bay Lightning…

Official Caps Game Preview Preview

Caps Blue Line

Japers’ Rink

Joe’s Washington Hockey Blog

Our Keys to the Game :

Keep the pressure and puck in Tampa Bay’s zone. By putting pressure on Olie Kolzig, the Caps will get their chances.  Kolzig does not move as well as he used to, we witnessed it last year, and by mounting serious  pressure and ripping shots, the Caps can cerate success.  Stop the finding the perfect pass routine and just shoot the puck when the opportunity arises.

Defensively, the Lightning are young and the explosive Washington offense can take advantage.  Washington needs to improve the play of the power play while maintaining the steadiness of the penalty kill unit.

Does Ovie heat up tonight and end his career long goal drought?

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