- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 30, 2002

The Washington Capitals have possibly the best depth they have ever had throughout their roster but whether that depth is up to the task has yet to be proven. Tonight depth gets put to the test.
Starting goaltender Olie Kolzig was placed on injured reserve yesterday, meaning he is out until at least the Nov.5 game in Columbus. Rookie Sebastien Charpentier was recalled from the Caps' top farm team in Portland, Maine, to take Kolzig's place on the roster.
Kolzig, 4-2-0 with a goals-against of 2.07 and the second best saves percentage in the league at .939, sustained what appears to be a sprained left wrist during the morning skate Monday in Pittsburgh. The injury at first did not appear serious but when he showed up for the game he said he was unable to play. Backup Craig Billington played with Kolzig backing up.
"It's not broken or anything, some sort of sprain," general manager George McPhee said yesterday. "The doctor wants him to rest it until Monday."
It is a significant chink in the Caps' armor. Kolzig may be in the best shape of his career and is determined to make up for last season's humbling non-playoff performance. The goalie was not up to his usual standards but refuses to use a knee injury sustained just before the Olympic break in February as an excuse.
Billington has played in three games this season with mixed results. He was shelled in his first game and was relieved half way through the first period; he was excellent Saturday night in a 1-1 tie in Florida; he allowed a bad goal Monday night that proved to be the difference as the Penguins won, 3-2.
Now comes phase two of the goaltending duel that took up much of training camp, Billington vs. Charpentier. The 25-year-old rookie was originally on the roster with Billington relegated to Portland but one day into the season, the club reversed that decision, recalled the veteran and sent Charpentier to Portland.
McPhee acknowledged that the coaches had determined that Billington had the best training camp and should be with the team. The general manager agreed.
Charpentier played four games with Portland, going 1-1-2, a 2.17 GAA with a saves percentage of .933. He played two NHL regular season games at the end of last year, going 1-1-0 and played well in both.
Coach Bruce Cassidy said yesterday he had not made his mind up on which goalie would play against Boston tonight at MCI Center but was leaning toward Charpentier.
"I just think in two of the three games [Billington] could have been better," Cassidy said. "He certainly was up to the task in Florida; he played Saturday so there's no excuse not to come out and be ready.
"I just thought the [shorthanded] goal was stoppable. You need those. We talked about this before: In the first period you need a goalie to be on top of it. That's my expectation, give us a chance to win, which he ultimately did but we had to play from behind again."
No matter who is in goal, the team can't win if it doesn't start scoring. The Caps have gone eight straight games scoring two or fewer goals yet have managed a 3-4-1 record.
The Caps' first power-play unit worked by itself for more than 30 minutes yesterday as Cassidy tried different formations. The unit usually lines up with Jaromir Jagr quarterbacking along the half boards to the goalie's left. Yesterday Jagr switched sides and the unit worked long and hard getting used to doing things in reverse.
"We're just trying different things so we use everybody, so that all of our weapons are being used," said Cassidy. He was especially concerned that Peter Bondra, and his powerful shot, was sitting idle too long when the unit lined up from the right side.
Notes Defenseman Alex Henry, claimed off waivers from Edmonton last Thursday, was expected to arrive today after clearing immigration. To make room, right wing Mike Farrell (four games, no points, two shots) was demoted to Portland. That gives the Caps a roster of 12 forwards, two goalies and an unusually high nine defensemen. Defenseman Brendan Witt (groin pull) skated yesterday for the full 50-minute practice but Cassidy listed him at no better than 50-50 for the game.


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