- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 14, 2004

Seen and heard last night at Philips Arena in Atlanta:

PRAGUE OR BUST — The Caps’ roster isn’t likely to yield many World Championship hopefuls.

Goalie Olie Kolzig may take part for his native Germany as he did during the Olympic qualifying round in 2002. Jeff Halpern, a native of Potomac, could vie for a spot on the U.S. roster, and Brendan Witt would be a darkhorse to play for Canada.

Atlanta, however, has a bevy of players that could represent their respective countries at the tournament from April24 through May9 in Prague and which this year will be an important tuneup for the World Cup of Hockey set for late August.

Dany Heatley (15 points in 20 games since his return from the car accident that took the life of teammate Dan Snyder in late September) will try to regain the form that saw him lead Canada to a surprise gold medal at last year’s World Championships, and longtime running mate Ilya Kovalchuk and Slava Kozlov would improve Russia’s chances dramatically.

Pasi Nurminen and Kari Lehtonen (Finland), Daniel Tjarnqvist (Sweden), Shawn McEachern (U.S.), Marc Savard (Canada) and perhaps Andy Sutton (Canada) also could be asked to take part.

Thrashers coach Bob Hartley also might get some consideration from Hockey Canada as a potential member of the coaching staff, although Joel Quenneville and Paul Maurice figure to be strong candidates as well.

Atlanta general manager Don Waddell is assistant general manager for Team USA.

SLOW START, POOR FINISH — Entering the game, the Caps and Thrashers had a combined 15-56-9-3 record when giving up the first goal.

The Thrashers had been especially sluggish to start games, giving up the first goal in 45 of their first 71 games. The Caps were marginally better, giving up the first goal 38 times in their first 71 games.

Scott Burnside

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