Washington Capitals goaltender Olaf Kolzig missed tonight's game against the Phoenix Coyotes with a pulled thigh muscle, but he intends to return from the injured reserve list to play on Monday night in Colorado.
Kolzig, Washington's best player this season, said he does not plan to play on Saturday in San Jose and has already missed four contests since suffering the injury while warming up for a game. But the former all-star felt good today after his most rigorous test. Kolzig was on the ice for 90 minutes, facing an array of shots and feeling none of the piercing stabs of pain that had been accompanying each thrust up from the ice.
"Today was the best it felt, with no fatigue," Kolzig said. "I'll get another practice in San Jose and go from there. But I really haven't been on the ice for any consistent amount of time in the last week, and the last thing you want to do is go into a game and not be in game shape and you get fatigued and the muscle is not fully conditioned and it goes again. So I think we're erring on the side of caution and Monday is realistic, but I would say [Saturday] is not."
Barring an injury to another player this weekend, the Capitals will have to make a roster move to open up a spot for Kolzig's return. General Manager George McPhee said today that he has not decided whether he would carry three goalies for a spell as Kolzig works back into the lineup -- and thus assign a forward or defenseman to the minors -- or if he would immediately make a move with his goalies.
Rookie Sebastien Charpentier has started the last three games since being recalled and has outplayed veteran Craig Billington for the backup job this season. The Capitals tried to shop Billington but found no takers and will likely opt to buy out his contract shortly, sources said. Coach Bruce Cassidy has shown more faith in Charpentier this season and the Capitals also want to promote Charpentier to allow goalie prospects Maxime Ouellet and Rastislav Stana to get more playing time in the minors.
"Charpy has been fine for us," Cassidy said. "We're happy with him. He has done his job."
Talking It Out
Cassidy had a 30-minute private meeting with Jaromir Jagr before the morning skate. The coach is making a point of seeking more player feedback and is making the rounds with the team's more prominent players. "There's a pecking order on this team, just like on every other pro sports team," Cassidy said. "And you try to talk to the guys who are your big dogs and see where they are at and with [Jagr] that's all it was, a case of picking his brain and seeing if he has any ideas or what he's thinking about the club. We're not winning on a regular basis, so I'll talk to Peter [Bondra], talk to [Jagr], talk to [Robert Lang]. I talked to [Steve Konowalchuk] the other day in Buffalo. It's nothing more than seeing what the state of the team was." . . . Ron Wilson, who coached Washington for five seasons, faces his former team tonight after recently being hired by San Jose. "I am not going to overstress this game to the rest of the team," Wilson said during a media conference call. "Every game is equally as important and I would never ask them to try harder because the Caps let me go."