Kolzig must pass screen test Caps goalie will try to block out Wings, distractions in Game 2

June 11, 1998|By Sandra McKee | Sandra McKee,SUN STAFF

DETROIT -- Washington Capitals goalie Olie Kolzig had been anticipating a madcap night. Here he was in Hockeytown USA for Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals against the Detroit Red Wings, having visions about what might be in store.

"I thought there would be laser lights in my eyes, that they'd dangle the Stanley Cup from a string like a carrot out there in front of me," Kolzig said.

It wasn't anything like that.

Instead, Detroit dug out a 2-1 win by throwing everything it had into Kolzig's path, including a rugged rookie named Tomas Holmstrom, who has spent most of the postseason camping in front of opposing goalies.

Tonight, in Game 2, Kolzig can expect more of the same and if the Capitals are to win this game -- or this series -- the goalie has somehow to become more than Godzilla, the monster whose name he wears across his helmet.

While his teammates try to revive Washington's offense, Kolzig has to become Superman, the man who can see the puck through stationary and rolling screens designed to impair his vision.

In Game 1, Nicklas Lidstrom scored on just such a rolling screen. It turned out to be the game-winner.

Yesterday, the Wings were more determined than ever to block Kolzig's view, while Kolzig and goaltending coach Dave Prior were thinking how to combat it.

"They set and tried to set screens all night," Kolzig said. "If I don't see the puck, my best hope is that I'm positioned well enough that it's going to hit me."

Prior says Kolzig has more armor than that. The coach certainly doesn't want him to compromise his stance for a peek around the men in front of his crease, but he wants Kolzig to use those bodies rather like blocking dummies to cut down on the open areas through which a team can score.

He also wants Kolzig's teammates to push the play out along the walls, where shots are less dangerous. And most of all, Prior wants Kolzig to maintain his self-control.

"Detroit hasn't hit him or run at him," Prior said. "What they're doing is trying to block his view and get him off his game. But Olie isn't going to react. He's not going to push back. He's proven throughout the playoffs that he's more disciplined than any other goalie out there."

Through the years, Kolzig was never one to hide his emotions. He would fly into a rage at practice, smash sticks over the crossbar, lose his focus and otherwise "make an idiot out of myself."

This season, that has changed. At practice, Kolzig may still hurl an obscenity or rocket a puck around the glass as his way of venting, but that's it. And in the net during games, the only thing Kolzig does after the other team scores is take a swig from his water bottle.

"He didn't have too much of a chance on either of our two goals," said Detroit center Igor Larionov. "But we didn't get anything when he could see and we were lucky to hold on in the third period."

Unlike Buffalo's renowned goalie, Dominik Hasek, who came unglued and hurled his blocking glove at Peter Bondra, and even Detroit's Chris Osgood, who has 10 penalty minutes, Kolzig has remained unruffled.

And the fact that the Wings didn't get a third goal Tuesday night continues to nag Detroit center Sergei Fedorov.

"It was a funny feeling," he said. "I hated it. We were in control and then we weren't. In the first period, we got the screen on Kolzig, but in the third Washington was in charge. We didn't get screens. We barely had the puck."

When Detroit made it into the Washington zone and managed a shot, Kolzig made the initial save and the Caps cleared it quickly.

"They have a pretty good system," Fedorov said. "They have the puck out of the zone in two or three seconds. It's what they do very, very well. Their forechecking is excellent. Their goalie gave us no rebounds. I think it gives us a lot to think about in Game 2."

NOTES: The Caps need to get Adam Oates and Brian Bellows untracked. Neither has scored in 10 games, though both have made plays that resulted in goals. Oates was suffering from an ear infection in Game 1, and did not have his A game. Bellows went home to Minnesota after Game 1 to be with his wife, who gave birth to a boy yesterday. Bellows is expected back for Game 2. Capitals left wing Todd Krygier, sidelined with a groin injury suffered in the Buffalo series, probably will return to the lineup tonight, coach Ron Wilson said. It will be a homecoming of sorts. Krygier's parents live in Bloomfield Hills, Mich, and he spent the early part of his youth in Novi, Mich. Caps general manager George McPhee credited former GM David Poile for much of the team's success. "David gets most of the credit," McPhee said. "He and Jack Button did a great job of drafting players. All we did was rearrange the furniture and put on some new upholstery."

Stanley Cup Finals

Washington vs. Detroit

(Detroit leads 1-0)

Date .. ..Res./Site .. .. .. ..Time .. .. ..TV

Gm. 1 .. .Detroit, 2-1

Tonight ..at Det. .. .. .. .. ... 8 .. .. ESPN

Sat. .. ..at Wash. .. .. .. .. .. 8 .. .. ESPN

Tue. .. ..at Wash. .. .. .. .. .. 8 .. .. ESPN

6/18 .. ..at Det. .. .. .. .. ... 8* .. . Fox

6/20 .. ..at Wash. . .. .. .. ... 8* .. . ESPN

6/23 .. ..at Det. .. .. .. .. ... 8* .. ..Fox

*-If necessary

Pub Date: 6/11/98

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