Kolzig: Holtby strong enough to recover

Kolzig: Holtby strong enough to recover
May 3, 2012, 4:41 pm
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Former Capitals goaltender Olie Kolzig played in two of the longest games in team history and says the emotional toll of losing a long overtime game far outweighs the physical toll.

I know its pretty deflating after you lose, Kolzig said Thursday at Kettler Capitals Iceplex, where only a handful of extra Capitals skated following their 2-1 loss to the Rangers in triple overtime, the third-longest game in Capitals history.

According to Elias Sports Bureau, there have been 16 Stanley Cup playoff games that have gone three or more overtimes since 2000. In the previous 15 occasions the team that lost that overtime game went 5-11 in the series.

The good thing, Kolzig said, is that there are two days between games, so the emotional benefit you get from it both ways wont be as significant as if we were playing Friday night.

Their high will come down a little bit and our low will come up a little bit and both teams will be re-energized and rested. Were fortunate we have the two days in between.

Now an associate goaltending coach with the Caps, Kolzig said he believes rookie goaltender Braden Holtby has the mental strength to recover from Wednesday nights marathon, which lasted 114 minutes, 41 seconds and ended at 12:14 Thursday morning.

He gave the guys a chance to win, Kolzig said. All he can take from that is that he was there for the guys. Youre going to have games like that. Youre going to have games where your team bails you out. Its about keeping your emotions in check and playing at a steady level.

Kolzig was the losing goaltender in the longest game in Capitals history, an epic Game 4 against the Pittsburgh Penguins in 1996 that Petr Nedved ended 19:15 into the fourth overtime.

The Caps, who held a two-games-to-one lead in the series before that game, went on to lose Games 5 and 6 and were eliminated.

In 2003, Kolzig allowed a series-clinching goal to Marty St. Louis and the Tampa Bay Lightning in the third overtime of Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals. He said those two losses still haunt him.

He is hoping Holtby can help rewrite the Capitals record books and lead the Capitals to a come-from-behind series victory, much the same way he did against Boston when the Caps fell behind two games to one, then won Games 4 and 5 in an eventual seven-game victory.

What really impresses me most about him in the playoffs is his resiliency, Kolzig said. Whether he gives up a bad goal or has a bad game, hell come back and make that next big save or hell come back and win the next game.

Hes gone 25 games now without losing back-to-back, so hell get tested with that again on Saturday. The mental toughness, the resiliency and the calmness -- its been impressive to watch.