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Johnny on the Spot

With goaltender Olie Kolzig sidelined for at least three weeks with a knee sprain, the starting job has been handed to Brent Johnson.

What I'm wondering is this: Which Johnson is going to show up on a nightly basis?

In his nearly two years in Washington, Johnson's performances have ranged from awful (beginning of last season) to awesome (end of last season) to adequate (so far this season).

Sometimes he's been all three in the same game, sometimes the same period.

That said, there's no doubt in my mind that Johnson can win games. He did it in St. Louis as a starter five years ago. And he did it last spring when he went 4-1-1 in his last six starts for the Caps. The ability is there, that much I know.

In my opinion, it's all about mental focus, mental toughness and consistency for Johnson. That's often what separates starters from backups.

I'm wondering about something else, too: Which Caps are going to show up in front of Johnson? With the playoffs almost out of reach, are the guys going to rally around him and work hard to finish strong? Or are they going to have a collective letdown in the absence of Kolzig, the team's backbone and emotional leader?

What transpires over the coming weeks is going to speak volumes about Johnson and Capitals' character.

Thoughts?


By Tarik El-Bashir  |  February 13, 2007; 11:33 AM ET
 
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