- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 10, 2002

Olie Kolzig knows his Washington Capitals stand a much better chance of winning when he is guarding the net. He also knows the reality of the situation: At 80 percent healthy, he can't do the job well enough on a consistent basis to be very effective over the long term.

So he sits and waits. And his teammates hope they can raise their level of play enough to cover his absence.

The Caps' goalie, injured in pregame warmups Friday, took the ice yesterday before his teammates practiced. Kolzig wanted to see if his quadriceps injury had recovered enough for him to play, or if the pain had subsided enough to allow him to compete.

"Skating, moving around the crease, everything's fine but as soon as you go into a butterfly and get up quickly, you feel it," he said. "It's not 100 percent and I'm not where I want to be. I wouldn't be able to do what I want to do so right now it's back to square one, day-to-day."

Kolzig, who has been placed on injured reserve, is not sure how the injury occurred. He was going through his first set of motions in his pregame routine when he felt what he thought was a piece of equipment digging into his thigh. "I kind of shook my leg to move the equipment and [the leg] really tightened up and the leg went pretty weak," he said.

Quadriceps is a group of four muscles in the front of the thigh that run from the hip. The quads are responsible for knee extension.

"It's a muscle that helps turning your leg in and out," Kolzig said. "If I was a positional player I'd be able to play but because of what I do, I need that rotation of my leg when I go down and I need the explosiveness when I get up. Right now the power and strength isn't there."

He came to work yesterday thinking it might be the day he would resume practice and possibly play tomorrow night in Anaheim, the first in a four-game road swing through the West. He worked out by himself to see if he was ready and quickly realized he wasn't.

"I've got a pretty good track record of healing quickly so I'm a little disappointed," he said. "I'm also realistic. I'm getting a little older (32); it's going to take more time to get back. But it's important to get this injury 100 percent healed so that I can play 95 percent of the games from this point on rather than come back when it's 80 percent and have it go again."

A timetable? "I know I won't play Wednesday and beyond that, I can't put a timetable on it."

Sebastien Charpentier will start in his place with Craig Billington backing up.

The Caps made a series of roster moves yesterday, including putting Kolzig on injured reserve. Rookie defenseman Steve Eminger was released to play for the Canadian National Junior team in the World Junior Championships over the holidays in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Left wing-center Colin Forbes returned to the Portland (Maine) Pirates while two players were recalled, center Trent Whitfield and left wing Andreas Salomonsson.

Coach Bruce Cassidy now has five people to pick from to form a fourth line Glen Metropolit and Whitfield at center; Salomonsson, Kip Miller or Alex Henry at wing.

"We're just looking to give guys opportunities," Cassidy said, pointing to the fact Ivan Ciernik was brought back from Portland 10 days ago and has played very well with his second chance. "We're just looking for a little different mix, a faceoff guy, a spark, some energy. I want to rotate some guys until they separate themselves."

What he hopes to end up with is another line like the Jeff Halpern unit checking, speed and determination driving the opposition to distraction.

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