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April 15, 2010

2:02
P.M.

Preview: Capitals vs. Canadiens, Game 1

Total Responses: 21

About the hosts

About the host

Host: Tarik El-Bashir

Tarik El-Bashir

Tarik El-Bashir covers the Washington Capitals ice hockey team and the NHL.

About the topic

Post staff writer Tarik El-Bashir previews the opening game of the Caps-Canadiens first-round playoff series.
Q.

Tarik El-Bashir :

I don't know about y0u, but faceoff can't get here soon enough for me. The build-up is getting old and we've still got five hours. So let's chat, shall we? 

Q.

Playoffs

Tarik, How far you do think the caps can/will go this year?(assuming they play to their abilities)
A.
Tarik El-Bashir :

At the risk of sounding like a total homer, I don't see any reason they can't be the East's rep in SCF. But, assuming they get that far, I think they'll have trouble with the West's top end teams.

Put to you another way: unlike past years, I have not booked the El-Bashir family vacation yet.

 

– April 15, 2010 2:00 PM
Q.

Habs??

Tarik, I have a very important question that will have a huge impact on the outcome of the series... Why are the Canadiens nicknamed the "Habs". Thanks!
A.
Tarik El-Bashir :

It is short for "Les Habitants". Which, according to proicehockey.com is "the informal name given to the original settlers of New France, dating back to the 17th Century."

There's a guy in my neighborhood who has "Les Habs" on his Virginia plates. I always think that's cool when I pass him on Dulles Toll Road.

 

– April 15, 2010 2:01 PM
Q.

Coaching Advantage with Home Ice Advantage?

Goerge McPhee on Caps Red Line said that the best part of having Home Ice advantage through the playoffs was that Coach Boudreau will have the advantage in picking lines. I thought I knew a lot about hockey but I am getting stumped on this one.
A.
Tarik El-Bashir :

McPhee was referring to line matching. Because the home team has the last line change before faceoffs, he will have the option of putting his best defensive forward combo and best defense pairing on the ice against the Habs best forwards.

– April 15, 2010 2:04 PM
Q.

Caps-Habs comparisons

It seems to me that the discussions of the Caps and Canadiens records against each other in the regular season make less sense than usual because all the games were played before the Olympics. I think the Caps are a significantly better team since the Olympics because of the trades they made and the promotion of John Carlson. Do you agree?

A.
Tarik El-Bashir :

I agree. But the biggest reason why the regular season outcomes don't matter much is because neither Jose Theodore nor Jaroslav Halak started any of the four contests.

That's straight up weird.

 

– April 15, 2010 2:06 PM
Q.

Caps are swept

The Canadians sweep the Caps. And the Caps are shut out in two of the games. Caps goal tending is the major problem and the curse of TK.
A.
Tarik El-Bashir :

Let me guess, you're from Montreal. Either that, or you're a longtime Caps fan who's jaded from years of disappointment. (I run into a lot of those).

Either way, I'm pretty sure the Caps won't be swept.

 

 

– April 15, 2010 2:08 PM
Q.

Hockey evolution

Hockey seems to be undergoing the kind of evolution soccer went through 15-20 years ago, from a defense-first, long-ball (read: dump-and-chase), BORING approach, to the wide-open, creative, dynamic style that the best teams now play. I want that style to be rewarded because it's the style I want to watch. I want the Caps to win the Stanley Cup for the same reason I want Spain to win the World Cup. So everyone will try harder to imitate the best, most exciting style of play. Do you sense this possible sea-change in the NHL?
A.
Tarik El-Bashir :

That's a great observation. And, yes, it will take the Caps winning the Cup to convert other defensive minded coaches to Bruce Boudreau's style.

If the Caps fall short, though, you can bet everyone will point to them and say, "See, told you that you can't win playing like that in the playoffs."

First in line will, of course, be R.J. Umberger.

 

– April 15, 2010 2:11 PM
Q.

Pittsburgh (ahem!)

Seems like every season one or more teams "rises to the occasion" WRT the Stanley Cup, like my Penguins last year! Which teams do you see as having the strongest late-season momentum that might sustain them in the playoffs?
A.
Tarik El-Bashir :

I think Detroit was playing the best down the stretch, which is why so many pundits predicted they would steamroll the Coyotes.

It's still possible, but the Red Wings now have their work cut out for them.

 

– April 15, 2010 2:14 PM
Q.

Which Caps player plays on which line?

Can I ask a newbie question? I've heard that Ovie and Backstrom are on the Cap's "top line" but how do you find out who else (other forward and 2 defensemen) would be out there with them? Does it change from game to game? I only saw rosters on the Caps website, not a breakdown of the lines. Thanks!
A.
Tarik El-Bashir :

Check my Capitals Insider blog. I put the lines and pairings up every game day and practice day.

Tonight, the top line will be Ovechkin-Backstrom-Knuble.

 

– April 15, 2010 2:16 PM
A.
Andrea Caumont :
– April 15, 2010 2:21 PM
Q.

B.Morrison

Tarik - Thank you for the excellent coverage and writing throughout this historic year! Is Brendan Morrison still hurt? Flash scares me as the 2nd line center, especially when faceoffs are so crucial during the playoffs...I think he is better on the wing. Your thoughts?
A.
Tarik El-Bashir :

I do not think Brendan Morrison is still hurt. I just think that Coach Boudreau thinks the second line of Laich-Fleischmann-Semin is a better matchup against the smaller, faster Habs.

I will say this: If Flash wins 35 percent of his faceoffs tonight, BB will have to consider making a change because Laich and Semin are too talented to spend all night chasing the puck.

I also think that if the Caps meet the Pens again, Flash can't be the second line center. The Caps will need to go Backstrom-Morrison-Belanger-Steckel down the middle against Crosby-Malkin-Staal-Adams/Rupp.

 

 

 

 

– April 15, 2010 2:21 PM
Q.

Expectations

I'm not a huge hockey fan but am excited that our Caps are in the playoffs. I keep reading that they are almost expected to be in the Stanley Cup finals this year. How far do you see them doing in the playoffs?

A.
Tarik El-Bashir :

Anything short of making the franchise's second SCF appearance will be a big time letdown. That's what happens when you win the Presidents' Trophy. Expectactions are huge as they're 121 point total.

 

– April 15, 2010 2:25 PM
Q.

journalist ethics

As a journalist are you supposed to take an impartial position or do you find yourself cheering for the caps and guys that you spend all year interviewing and watching practice?
A.
Tarik El-Bashir :

I sleep the same whether the Caps win or lose. 

But there are two things things I was thinking about this morning on the drive to KCI:

1) Covering a winning locker room in the playoffs is much more fun than a losing locker room. Last year after the Caps went down 3-1 against the Rangers, no one wanted to see me.

2) And for purely selfish reasons, if the Caps get past the second round, they might as well go the whole darn way.

 

 

– April 15, 2010 2:32 PM
Q.

Is anyone ever going to talk about the Caps-Penguins ref problem?

Over the last two years, the Penguins have never been charged with more penalties than the Caps. Not once in 15 games. Over that time, the Penguins have had about twice as many power play opportunities. Fans from other teams grading the refs have said there is clear bias against Washington. If the two teams play again in the playoffs, will the Caps have to play twice as good as the Penguins in order to win? Will the refs or the league ever be called out over this in the media?
A.
Tarik El-Bashir :

I hear what you're saying. Reporters are aware of the stats.

But I'm sitting here talking to colleague Corey Masisak, and neither one of us can remember covering a recent Caps-Pens game where we thought to ourselves, 'Man, the refs are really going out of their way to hose the Caps.'

Also, you've got to remember that the Caps were one of the most undisciplined teams in hockey (maybe in pro sports) last season. So that could have something to do with it.

I can promise you this: I will keep closer track if the two teams meet this season since the Caps have been so much more disciplined this season.

 

 

 

 

 

– April 15, 2010 2:39 PM
Q.

Predictions

What is your prediction for this series? And who do you think becomes the unsung hero that every Cup team has?
A.
Tarik El-Bashir :

I think the Caps will (and need to) get it done in five games.

The unsung hero will be Brooks Laich.

 

– April 15, 2010 2:41 PM
Q.

Theodore

My concern is that Jose Theodore might not be able to adequately withstand the pressure of playing in Montreal, based on his past history there. Do you envision a goaltending change in game 3, particularly if the teams split the first two games?
A.
Tarik El-Bashir :

Are you sure you weren't sitting here in the press room  at KCI earlier? We've been debating that for some time now.

I think it's all up to Jose. If he plays well down here and they split anyway, of course he's back in goal for Game 3. If they split and Jose has an off night in Game 2, then all bets are off.

That's one thing about Coach Boudreau. He's got little patience with his goaltenders. As he once said famously, "Stop the puck" when asked what he expected from his goalie that night.

 

– April 15, 2010 2:45 PM
Q.

Hi-def

Hockey looks great in HD, but I don't pay Comcast to get it, only over the air. Are any of the games scheduled for broadcast TV?
A.
Tarik El-Bashir :

I'm less concerned about the Caps' defense than I am about the whole five-man unit paying solid defensively. The blue liners take a lot of heat sometimes when the team's non-backchecking forwards are equally to blame.

 

– April 15, 2010 2:48 PM
Q.

Hope this isn't too personal

Did you play hockey as a kid?
A.
Tarik El-Bashir :

I did. Briefly with Montgomery. For a time with the Cap Boys. A few years in high school at Good Counsel. And a few years as an adult before family commitments got in the way.

I was a goalie. I was terrible. It also took my until I was 20 to pay off all of my credit card debt related to goalie equipment.

Now my six year old plays. Must be payback for what I did to my parents' bank account. Funny how things come full circle, isn't it?

 

 

 

 

– April 15, 2010 2:51 PM
Q.

Covering the Coverage

First off, thanks for the great job you do providing great Caps coverage in the multi-horse town, unlike Montreal which is a one trick pony. Have you talked with any of the Montreal media over the past few days about what their thoughts on the series is. Most pundits seem to view the Habs as having no shot (dangerous thinking), but what do they think since the Montreal media have such a love/hate relationship with the Habs?
A.
Tarik El-Bashir :

I have talked to many of the beat reporters from Montreal (and there are about a dozen of them and many of them are good friends of mine.)

I do not get the impression from our conversations that they are planning for this series to go long. Like everyone else, they've got concerns about the way the Habs finished out the regular season with losses to the Islanders, Hurricanes and Maple Leafs and Montreal's inability to generate much in the way of offense at even strength.

It would be interesting to see how many of them have booked flights back DC for Game 5. I'll ask around tonight. Check back next chat.

 

– April 15, 2010 2:58 PM
Q.

Brooksie's Cage

Is BLaich ready to get rid of the cage and maybe wear a shield?

A.
Tarik El-Bashir :

I don't know.

I joked with him the other day about wearing the Dany Heatley looking visor in practice. He didn't laugh. In fact, he told me I was "shunned" for the next few days and would have to go through his agent, Boyd Gordon, for future interviews. Seriously.

If I were him, I would wear that cage until the trainer said it's 100-percent safe to take it off. Then, I would put a normal visor on.

 

– April 15, 2010 3:00 PM
Q.

Boudreau's rant

I could've sworn that the Post reported Theo was hit by an Ovi shot and that set off Boudreau today. What say you?
A.
Tarik El-Bashir :

I don't know who it could have been. I wrote the blog post about Theo's injury and never mentioned Ovechkin. I asked around and couldn't get a straight answer, so I left it out instead of speculating, you know, journalism 101 stuff.

 

 

– April 15, 2010 3:01 PM
Q.

Hunter

FYI: Dale Hunter of the London Knights is the 2009-10 winner of the Matt Leyden Trophy awarded to the OHL's Coach of the Year. [OHL]
A.
Tarik El-Bashir :

Congrats to Dale. And my apologies for "butt" dialing him from my Backberry the other day. Complete accident.

– April 15, 2010 3:03 PM
Q.

Caps/Habs

The Habs will be a tough out. The Caps will be introduced to a whole new world when they go play in Montreal in the playoffs. They'd better win the first 2 games in DC.
A.
Tarik El-Bashir :

I don't know what effect the crowd has on visiting players. But, personally, I love the atmosphere there.

– April 15, 2010 3:06 PM
Q.

Tarik El-Bashir :

Thanks for joining me today. I'm sure we'll have a few more of these this spring. So be sure to keep an eye on the schedule. Until then, take care.

Q.

 

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