The Washington Capitals play five straight games at home beginning with last night's contest against Tampa Bay, and starting goaltender Olaf Kolzig likely will play in all five. Capitals Coach Ron Wilson said he will be riding his top goalie as the schedule picks up and the team looks to crawl back toward the .500 mark.
Kolzig has played in 13 of the first 14 games and likely will start until the team plays back-to-back games Nov. 19-20. Backup Craig Billington played very well in his lone appearance, but probably won't play more than 15 to 20 games this season.
"I think we're going to go with Olie," Wilson said. "We're going to back off our practices. We pretty much got our system down and we'll save our energy for the games and fall back. If we're not playing a lot of back-to-back games, there's no reason why your number one goalie can't essentially play in all the games."
Kolzig, who has played in 64 games each of the last two seasons, has kept the Capitals in all but one game he's started this year, but often got little support, especially in the first 10 games. His numbers have suffered, with a goal-against average well above 2.50 and a save percentage well below .900--the standard benchmarks for quality goalies these days. However, those statistics do not accurately represent Kolzig, who is facing far more high quality shots than most other goalies and still making huge saves.
"He's played very well, and you just hope Olie doesn't become numbers-conscious," Wilson said. "And sometimes he does. He gives you a chance to win almost every game and that's all you can ask your goalie to do. I think he's more relaxed this year and more comfortable with himself, and last year at this time he wasn't and it led to a bad month for him. His month of November wasn't very good and he's played very well so far. You can't really fault him for any of the goals."
The Capitals will be meeting with computer experts this week to discuss the possibility of installing a video editing system on their bench at MCI Center, which would enable them to show video to players during the game. Wilson said he does not believe the team would have to get permission from the NHL.
"I don't see why we couldn't do it," Wilson said. "Coaches do it in the NBA." . . .
Wilson said he is optimistic defensemen Joe Reekie (foot) and Yogi Svejkovsky (shoulder) will play Thursday. . . .
Defenseman Alexei Tezikov left last night's game in the third period with back spasms and is listed as day-to-day.