In the Land of Ice and Snow…

It’s cold, icy and snowy-ish outside. Ready for some red-hot hockey?

Yes, yes, I know – me, a diehard Penguins fan blogging about the Caps. Well, hey – though I love to hate on the local hockey boys, I love and respect the game more. And considering that Olaf Kolzig (right) recently played his 700th career NHL game on Sunday – with a 3-2 OT win over the flagging Rangers, I think it deserves mention. Even from a black-n-gold supporter like me.

I recognize talent and tenacity when I see it. And the Caps’ recent tear has a lot to do with the Man in the Mask as much as it has to do with Ovechkin’s stellar play. If the Caps retain their 3rd seed (and SE Division title) to the end of the regular season, it will be in no small part due to Kolzig and his solid, stalwart play.

Ollie the Goalie entered the NHL during the 89-90 season, appearing only twice and allowed 6 goals during those 120 minutes. Sixteen seasons later with the same team he started with, he’s still going strong. By far, he’s been a pillar of all the Cap teams since he became the go-to goalie in the 97-98 season; I know many Pens fans (myself included) continue to see him as our nemesis between the pipes whenever these two rivals meet.

Over the course of his workhorse days, he’s compiled a 296-290-21 record, with 63 ties and a 2.71 GAA. Not bad with a team that’s seen more dips and heights than Space Mountain during that timespan.

And I’ll give him this – in today’s modern sports world, it’s rare to find a player sticking with one team for (what may be) his full career*. I tend to root for such loyal players more than the ‘for rent’ guys who shuffle back and forth between teams during the gear-up to the playoff season.

So while I still love to dis the Caps, I’ll reserve a beer-hoisting to Ollie the Goalie the next time I get to the Verizon Center (which’ll be in March…because the Almighty Penguins are due one more time this season).

Congrats, Kolzig, on a great run so far. Here’s to a few more – just make sure to take the day off when Crosby and gang come to town, mmmkay?

*Rumors of a last-minute trade aside, I hope more for Kolzig’s sake that the Caps hold onto him until he retires. He deserves that much respect, at least.

2 Comments so far

  1. Andrew (unregistered) on February 13th, 2008 @ 4:36 pm

    Actually, given everything Olie has been the weak link this year. His last two games have been stellar, but December and January were brutal.

    If he plays as he has (against the Rags) down the stretch, the Caps will run away with the division.

  2. Ben R (unregistered) on February 13th, 2008 @ 10:31 pm

    Actually, the entire first half of the year was brutal to the Caps – frankly, I’m still amazed their at the top of the Division at this point. (Although, it *is* the Southeast…)

    I’d lay blame for the season up through January on the team as a whole and not just one player; it really seems that the coaching change was the catalyst needed to get their asses in gear.

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