The Washington Capitals (7-4-2-16, second in the Southeast Division) host the Tampa Bay Lightning (5-4-4-14, third in the Southeast Division) at 7:00 pm from Verizon Center.
It has many connotations, but in this instance it means that the man that was the face of the Washington Capitals for 16 years returns to the place he called home for so long to face his former team and teammates for the first time wearing different colors.
Olaf Kolzig, Olie The Goalie, Godzilla himself, is scheduled to be in net tonight as his current squad, the Tampa Bay Lightning, try to gain two points at the top of the tight Southeast Division.
Kolzig is relegated to backup status now, having played in just three of Tampa Bay's first 13 games. His numbers are good (1-1-1, 2.67, .925), evidence to his assertion that he can still play this game and be a contributing factor to a team's success.
The way his tenure ended in DC surely still tastes bitter to him though, forgotten during the Capitals extremely impressive stretch run last year, then completely ignored in the seven game playoff series against Philadelphia.
What had to especially hurt was that media and fans all called for him to start later in the series due to the Flyers physical style of play in front of the net and the liberties they took with then-goalie Cristobal Huet—a goalie, noted here, who was discarded almost as quickly as Kolzig was once the season was over.
But no, Coach Bruce Boudreau stuck with Huet throughout the playoffs while Kolzig sat, preparing himself for the chance that never came while at the same time bracing himself for what he knew would be the end of his tenure in the only place he'd called home in his NHL career.
Boudreau needed no excuse—Huet had played his way into the situation. GM George McPhee acquired him at the trade deadline for the job, and he was stellar helping the Capitals reach the playoffs on the last day of the season and stretching the series with the Flyers to seven games. So playing the hot hand and Kolzig missing the opportunity to help his team in the playoffs is certainly defensible.
It remains, though, disappointing, both to the legions of fans that would chant his name after a big save, and to the man himself.