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Kolzig hopes for happy homecoming

by Mike Morreale / Tampa Bay Lightning
"Olie the Goalie" returns to Washington Monday in what is sure to be an emotional homecoming for the 38-year-old veteran.

Olaf Kolzig, who had played his entire career in Washington where he holds team goaltending records for games played (711), wins (301), save percentage (.906) and shutouts (35), signed with the Tampa Bay Lightning over the summer.

"I know the people in Washington will receive him warmly, which they should," Tampa Bay Lightning coach Barry Melrose told "I hope he gets a huge standing ovation at the start of the game and I know he will. Hopefully, we'll get 2 points, but I also hope he'll get recognized as probably their most important player since (Hockey Hall of Famer) Rod Langway."

Kolzig, a two-time NHL All-Star who was drafted No. 19 overall by the Caps in 1989, won the Vezina Trophy as the League's best goalie in 1999-00 after posting a career-best 41 wins. He also led the Capitals to the 1998 Stanley Cup Finals, posting a 12-9 record and 1.95 goals-against average in 21 playoff games.

"I was there for 19 years and thought I was going to retire as a Capital, but it didn't work out that way," Kolzig said. "I talked to a lot of guys who have been traded. Jeff Halpern (now with Tampa Bay) was my roommate for a few years in Washington and he expressed to me what he felt when he returned to Washington that first time. It's a weird feeling when you're playing against an old team, especially a team that you played your whole career with, so I'm looking forward to it, but not looking forward to it. I need to get it out of the way and move on.

"I think the guys (in Tampa Bay) know the significance of the game and they're going to do a great job in front of me."

Kolzig, who has been backing up Mike Smith this season, is currently 1-1-1 with a 2.67 goals-against average and .925 save percentage. He went out to dinner with former Capitals teammates Brent Johnson and Chris Clark Sunday in order "to catch up on some things."

"That's the one good thing about playing in the Southeast Division," Kolzig said. "I'll get to see those guys 6 times and I wish them nothing but the best. They've got 20 guys who I was very close to, so I don't wish them anything bad other than I hope they finish behind us in the standings."

Steven Stamkos is also looking forward to visiting Washington.

"Knowing Olie is returning to his team is definitely something in the back of everyone's mind so you want to bear down and try to win a game for him," Stamkos said. "But it's not only going to be exciting for him, I'm going to be excited as well to have an opportunity to play against Alex Ovechkin and Mike Green for the first time."

Tampa defenseman Paul Ranger is grateful his team won't be the one trying to solve Kolzig this time around.

"I remember playing him the last three years in Washington and I hated playing against him," Ranger said. "It'll be fun and we'll be behind him 100 percent. Hopefully, we can get a win for him over there."

Cup rematch -- The last time the Pittsburgh Penguins played the Detroit Red Wings, they watched their opponent celebrate a Stanley Cup championship following a Game 6 victory at Mellon Arena.

Sidney Crosby and company are hoping the initial meeting this season will help ease the pain of that loss when the Penguins visit Joe Louis Arena in the first of two meetings with Detroit on Tuesday. The rematch is slated Feb. 8 in Pittsburgh.

The Penguins have scored 14 goals in their last 3 games. Leading the way have been Evgeni Malkin (4 goals, 22 points), Crosby (3 goals, 16 points) and Miroslav Satan (8 goals, 12 points).

The Red Wings, who had 5 days off before scoring a 3-1 victory over the New Jersey Devils Saturday, are hoping to improve the penalty-kill. After finishing eighth in the League in 2007-08 at 84 percent, the club currently stands 16th with an 81-percent killing efficiency this season. The Penguins are 13th in the NHL with a 19 percent power-play efficiency. The club has received a team-leading 4 power-play goals from Satan.

"(Penalty-killing) was one of our mainstays last year," defenseman Brian Rafalski said. "That's what wins you games if you do well on the penalty-kill and you're able to score a couple of power-play goals."

Deck the Halls
- The Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto will enshrine four new members Monday at 7:30 p.m. ET with the induction of Glenn Anderson and Igor Larionov in the players category, Ed Chynoweth posthumously in the builder category and Ray Scapinello in the referee/linesman category.

Anderson played in Edmonton for 11 seasons, concluding his Oilers' stint in 1990-91. He was consistently near the top of the NHL in scoring and thrived in the playoffs, scoring overtime winners in each of Edmonton's 5 marches to the Stanley Cup between 1984 and 1990.

Larionov was already one of the top hockey players in the world when he made his NHL debut in 1989 at the age of 29. He won 8 consecutive Russian League Championships with CSKA Moscow in the Soviet Elite League and was named Player of the Year in 1988. He captured 8 gold medals in international play, including 2 Olympic gold medals (1984 and 1988) before playing with the Vancouver Canucks from 1989-92, the San Jose Sharks from 1993-95 and the Detroit Red Wings for 8 seasons - including 3 Stanley Cups.

Chynoweth, the former Western Hockey League Commissioner, was elected posthumously. He became the first full-time president of the Western Canada Hockey League (now WHL) in November 1972 and was a founder of the Canadian Major Junior Hockey League, now CHL, in 1973 and served as CHL president for 20 years. He passed away on April 22.

Scapinello began his career as an official as a 20-year-old in Guelph. Three years later, in 1971, he began his career as an NHL linesman. In 33 years as an NHL official, Scapinello never missed a game.

Super Saturday
- There are 10 games scheduled on Saturday, including two intriguing inter-divisional showdowns in the Western Conference. Here's a closer look.


Dallas at Phoenix -- Phoenix right wing Shane Doan is off to the best scoring start of his 12-year NHL career. A notoriously slow starter, Doan has 12 points (7 goals, 5 assists) in his first 12 games. The off-season acquisition of center Olli Jokinen (5 goals, 13 points) is one reason Doan has jumped out of the gate firing on all cylinders.

The Stars signed Mark Parrish to a contract Nov. 5 and the 31-year-old wing made an immediate impact in his first game, registering a hat trick in a 4-1 triumph over the Anaheim Ducks. It was the sixth hat trick of his career; the last coming as a member of the Islanders on Dec. 9, 2006 against the Chicago Blackhawks.

"In the situation I was in, I was hoping to get off to a good start. But I didn't expect that," said Parrish. "I just wanted to come in and make a difference."


Colorado at Edmonton -- Prior to their 1-0 victory over the Nashville Predators Saturday, Colorado had allowed the first goal of the game 10-of-13 times and was on the losing end in 7 of those contests.

It was a situation Avalanche coach Tony Granato wanted rectified.

"You have to be ready for the start of the game," Granato said. "We have to dictate how the game's going to be played. You can't go around and wait and see how it's going to be played. We have to skate. We have to get everyone into it. We have to finish checks. You have to get a flow and rhythm to the game started early. If you can do that, it's a heck of a lot easier winning games than doing what we've been doing." The Avalanche snapped a 5-game losing streak with Saturday's victory -- the longest losing skein for the franchise in the regular season since dropping six straight from March 30-April 11, 1998.

"When you're falling behind, it's an uphill battle," said Avalanche defenseman Adam Foote.
The Oilers, 2-6-1 prior to Sunday's game in New Jersey, have been struggling on the penalty-kill. Last season, the Oilers ranked fifth in the NHL in that department (second overall on home ice) but have since dropped to 28th in the League in 2008-09 with a 75.4 percent efficiency (22nd on home ice). Overall, the Oilers have allowed 15 goals on 61 shots. Colorado is 23rd in the League on the power-play with a  14.9 percent efficiency.

"It's just a case of (the puck) finding the net on us," said Oilers coach Craig MacTavish. "Earlier in the year, we weren't executing as well, but lately we've executed pretty well. You analyze where the goals come from and they're shots that you are going to give up."

Air time
- Don't forget, the NHL Hour With Commissioner Gary Bettman and co-host Bill Clement airs every Thursday from 4-5 p.m. ET throughout the season on NHL Home Ice (XM Channel 204 and Sirius Channel 208).

NHL Hour With Commissioner Gary Bettman provides the latest news and events from the highest levels of the NHL. The show encourages fans to submit questions via phone and email. To submit questions to NHL Hour call 1-877-645-6696 or email The archived shows of The NHL Hour, a production of NHL Radio, are available for download on via a podcast. NHL Hour is a production of NHL Radio.

Contact Mike Morreale at

Author: Mike G. Morreale | Staff Writer

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