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Opening Night on Broadway

Welcome to the debut of the Capitals Insider Blog, coming to you live from the (supposedly) quiet car of a New York-bound Acela train.

My goal is to inform, entertain and provide you with details about the Capitals you won't find anywhere else. Stuff like lineups, injury updates, breaking news from practice, funny quotes from Washington's favorite Russian, Alex Ovechkin, and other tidbits scribbled in my reporter's notebook that I hope you'll find interesting.

We're less than six hours from the Caps' season opener against the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden. I don't know about you, but I'm full of nervous anticipation.

First, a bit about the Garden for those who have never been. It's ridiculously loud. It's always sold out. And I'm not so sure that's good for the Rangers, because the atmosphere seems to bring out the best in opposing players--so look for the Caps to be amped.

It's my favorite building for all of those reasons, but also because the press box is only a few feet off the ice, instead of a few feet from the ceiling. I'm so close, in fact, I can hear Olie Kolzig screaming at his defensemen after the Rangers score a goal.

Here's what you need to know:

1) Coach Glen Hanlon will apparently tweak his top forward line, after maintaining throughout camp he would probably stick with the Ovechkin-Dainius Zubrus-Chris Clark line that totaled 95 goals a year ago.

Tonight, it's going to be Ovechkin-Zubrus-Richard Zednik. More skill, less snarl. But is it going to work?

Clark, meantime, will skate on the second line next to Kris Beech and Alex Semin.

2) Hanlon also plans to dress 11 forwards and seven defensemen, instead of the traditional 12 and six. The thought behind this is to get Ovechkin, Semin and Zednik more ice time by double shifting them. (Ovechkin, however, figures to get the majority of the extra ice time.) The Stanley Cup champ Carolina Hurricanes employed this strategy last season, with Rod Brind'Amour often staying out for an additional shift. It worked for them, so why not?

3) Newly acquired enforcer Donald Brashear spent a lot of time in the penalty box during the preseason, but not for the reason the Capitals got him. Who is he going to beat up first? I bet we find out tonight.

That's all for now.

By Tarik El-Bashir  |  October 5, 2006; 1:30 PM ET
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Next: A kinder, gentler Olie Kolzig? Yeah, right.



Great to see you on the Caps beat. I have been following your work since you got stuck covering bad high school girls field hockey...Keep up the great work!


Posted by: Mike, Arlington | October 5, 2006 1:58 PM | Report abuse

Seeing as how I'm stuck in Bahston, and the Globe and Herald run very little except the local teams (scr** the Bruins), I'm pumped to see the Post get rolling with a Caps blog. Also glad to see the Post assign a sharpshooter like yourself to handle the task. I'd love to see this blog catch on like Roch's Balto. Sun blog for the Birds (while I'm a dedicated Post guy, that thing rules).
While Semin has a lot to prove after wimping out the past couple seasons (can't blame him completely, after seeing the purge that went on here), I think he's going to make a real impact this year. Looks like the Caps and our old friends the Pens (adding that other Russian hotshot) may be building for the next great NHL rivalry. Long, long way to go, but we'll see whether Ovie or Crosby lead their team to the promised land first . . .

Posted by: billb | October 5, 2006 2:16 PM | Report abuse


I agree with Mike. Glad to see you on the Caps beat. As a former HS goalie, I'm sure you'll enjoy this beat more than say, Indy Cars.

Dave S, GC Class of '92

Posted by: Dave, Melbourne, FL | October 5, 2006 2:17 PM | Report abuse

Guess the Post is trying to improve its Caps coverage after all. That's comforting.

Oh well. Look forward to this blog. Not sure how you manipulated your boss into letting you do this - but i'm thankful that you did.

Let's go Tarik!

Posted by: Mike, McLean | October 5, 2006 2:21 PM | Report abuse

awesome news to find out the post will run a caps blog. THANKS TARIK.

this should be fum. GO CAPS!

Posted by: go skins go | October 5, 2006 2:51 PM | Report abuse

Definitely glad to see some more coverage. Can't wait for the season to kick off!

Posted by: Backstrom | October 5, 2006 2:54 PM | Report abuse

Would that be Niklas Backstrom posting from Sweden?

(If only...)

Posted by: Rage | October 5, 2006 3:16 PM | Report abuse

I can't help but wonder if Glen Hanlon is the guy to bring along the wunderkind that is Ovechkin. I never could figure out why they let Ron Wilson go in the first place. I really think that a better mentor for Alex the Great is out there.

Posted by: Jim Hill | October 5, 2006 3:23 PM | Report abuse

Very impressed with Tarik and the Post's Caps coverage so far this pre-season leading into Caps opening night tonight.

Please keep up the good work of providing in depth coverage and serving up criticism of the team and its management as needed (sorely lacking in the recent past), and of course praise when deserved.


Posted by: DCDireWolf | October 5, 2006 3:23 PM | Report abuse

Looking forward to the blog, Tarik! Love the coverage.

Posted by: Wes Mantooth | October 5, 2006 3:43 PM | Report abuse

Hmmm, Ovechkin-Zubrus-Richard Zednik together? How about the Ozz line? I like just sounds nasty. Maybe that's where they can get their extra snarl.

3 Cheers for a Caps blog! Hurray!

Posted by: Steven | October 5, 2006 3:52 PM | Report abuse


Would love to see Brashear take off Jagr's head tonight. We can dream can't we? Cant wait for Opening Night at the Verizon Center Saturday night! Any idea what the pregame happenings will be like? Last years "orbs" were pretty lame if you ask me.

Posted by: Leigh | October 5, 2006 4:54 PM | Report abuse

The better Post coverage on the Caps so far this year is much appreciated.

Media coverage is part of what can fuel the buzz about a local team. But winning is the biggest part. So, hopefully the Caps will take one giant step forward in their rebuilding effort this season.

Posted by: Monty | October 5, 2006 5:07 PM | Report abuse

Maybe the Post and the Caps can turn the corner together and discover Washington is a hockey town after all. Good luck, Tarik!

Posted by: Fred | October 5, 2006 5:21 PM | Report abuse

Jagr scores 29 seconds in. Oy.

Posted by: Wes Mantooth | October 5, 2006 7:25 PM | Report abuse

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