Monday, March 03, 2008

Why Kolzig Started Saturday Night

A goalie controversy is often a jackpot for hockey writers (case in point, this article from today's Calgary Herald), and the recent acquisition of Cristobal Huet has no doubt ignited one here in D.C. (if one didn't exist prior, which is debatable).

But while Olie Kolzig and Huet will battle for starts down the stretch, contrary to Scott Burnside's pot-stirring blurb at the bottom of his most recent column, Saturday night's decision to start Kolzig against Toronto made sense for a couple of reasons, including:
  1. Kolzig was brilliant in his previous start, a 4-1 win over Minnesota in which he stopped 34 shots on goal to finish February with a 4-2-2 record, 2.33 GAA and .922 save percentage - it was hardly a charity start for a slumping old man (those seem, thankfully, to have subsided).
  2. Saturday night was the second of back-to-back games and the second of three games in four nights for the Caps. Sure, Huet could have played all three games, but why? Have you seen the Caps' March schedule? And did you know that Huet missed 5 games earlier this season with a groin injury, 20 games last year with a hamstring injury, and 18 the season before with a knee injury? He's not exactly an ironman. Resting him on Saturday night was not only the right move because it was the second game in two nights, but also because Huet has dominated the Bruins this season (3-0-0/1.47/.943) and been lit up by the Leafs (0-1-1/3.43/.887), against whom Kolzig had given up four goals on 57 shots (a .930 SV%) in two games this season prior to Saturday. A well-rested Huet will face Boston tonight.
Look, search the internet and you'll find few harsher critics of Kolzig (and the way he's been used) this year than this blog. And there's unquestionably a three-way "issue" between the pipes in D.C. right now. But you don't need to stretch to find it. Bruce Boudreau isn't "trying to appease too many folks" - he's trying to make the playoffs by giving his team its best chance to win every night, and that's why Olie Kolzig played Saturday night.


~Mark said...

Japers? Is that you?
Or did someone tie you up, and is posting propaganda in your name. Just say the secret code, and we'll know it's you. :-)

Anonymous said...

Look - Olie's SV percentage last year was .910, this year it's .890, or, roughly 26 more goals on this year's shots against. How many games could the Caps have turned the tide with those 26 goals?
No telling now. I say ride Cristobal like freaking Seabiscuit.

Anonymous said...

I just think its interesting that with all the Huet talk you are now getting ad fee from Quebec.

As for the post, you're right, not starting Huet was probably the right decision. I wonder though if Johnson was the right guy over Olie.

Brian said...

I've said it before and I'll say it many times again - Scott Burnside is to writing hockey articles as John Ferguson Jr is to writing hockey contracts.

When it comes to hockey, ESPN stands for Each Stupid Person's Nonsense. The NHL coverage has turned into a combination of People Magazine, The Drudge Report, and my personal rants. No the kind of quality one would expect from the "worldwide leader in cheerleading contests".

Anonymous said...

I don't think it's necessary to ride Huet all the way - as mentioned he's injury prone and Kolzig had a .922 save percentage in February, when he didn't play much, compared with ~.860 in December and January when he was being treated as a workhorse. To me that suggests that Olie will be fine to throw in every now and then.

Anonymous said...

Was at the game tonight. My favorite part was at the end of the game and all the players were off the ice. The Donald came out to Olie, put his arm around him, and they skated off the ice 2 AARP members skating off in to the sunset. It was a great moment.

Billy D said...

I agree... and I said the same thing on Sat. Kolzig is now our #2 and that made perfect sense to play a #2 Goalie. That being said, He should have played better... I thought he lost us the game.

Anonymous said...

Good points JP. I also believe that starting Huet in back-to-backs on the strength of one game in a Caps sweater would have been jumping the gun. Had Boudreau made that call, then he'd basically have named Huet the #1 netminder. The team should make sure Huet's healthy (and not slumping) before screwing with Kolzig's psyche by calling Kolzig the backup already. Let 'em compete until a clear leader emerges.