Last season, Washington goalie Jim Carey experienced accomplishment overload. For the Capitals, he was Mr. Clutch.
Called up from the minors, he went on an immediate six-game unbeaten streak and followed it with an 18-6-3 record that included four shutouts and a 2.13 goals-against average.
He started this season in the same fashion. He was 4-0 with his first shutout before the NHL season was two weeks old.
But Washington's past two games against the Colorado Avalanche and Los Angeles Kings have brought another experience. Carey has been pulled from back-to-back games, as a total of seven pucks landed behind him for goals.
Had he ever been pulled in back-to-back games?
"Never," he said with disgust.
At some point over the next three days, Caps coach Jim Schoenfeld said he will talk to Carey, 4-1 with a 2.56 goals-against, and to goalie Olie Kolzig, who came on in relief in both games with mixed results.
"I thought the last game was subpar for both kids," said Schoenfeld, who doesn't have to pick the starter for Washington's next game until Thursday against the Bruins in Boston. "But you know, sometimes the worst thing you can do is talk to a player right away because there is emotion involved. You're better to let that emotion wear off so you can talk and look at the situation objectively. But things will be addressed.
"Jim didn't play well in Colorado and he didn't play well [Friday] night. It's no different than any other player. If it isn't his night, why have him suffer through it? You're not doing him any favors by keeping him in there. Jim's going to win us an awful lot of games, but if it isn't going for him, then you have to find out if it's going for someone else."
That someone is Kolzig, 0-2 with a 2.21 goals-against. He made 16 saves and shut out Colorado the rest of the way in a 4-2 loss Wednesday. But Friday, against Los Angeles, he could not keep the door closed. Kolzig came in with the Caps down 3-0 and relinquished three goals in a 7-4 loss, in which the Kings got one empty-net goal.
Carey, who turned 21 in May, was sorting his way through the situation over the weekend.
"You're not going to win every night. You're not going to shut a team out every night," Carey said. "It's part of the game. If I have two shutouts in a row, it doesn't mean squat. I mean, it's two games. I got the shutout two games before this, and it doesn't really matter. . . . If I was going to get a shutout every night, I'd be Superman. It's not going to happen. If I was going to get pulled every night, I wouldn't be in the league. So you take the good with the bad, I guess."
He figures it is a growth experience and a chance to become a better player. Keep it in mind and respect what happened, he said, but don't dwell on it.
"It makes you work harder, and mentally it prepares you to face adversity," he said. "You know, if everything is dandy, and you get everything hand-fed to you, I don't think that makes you 7/8 7/8 TC better player. But that's not to say I want that to happen again. But it certainly makes you think, and come playoff time, if I'm a better player because I got pulled in games five and six, it's worth it."