The Washington Capitals: An Unfinished Playoff Life

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One of my favorite movies is “An Unfinushed Life.”  It’s a moving, modern-day, morass of a movie about family and relationships and hurt and healing that takes you up and down and all around; it takes you all the way from wide open, endless possibilities to an almost certain dead-end. Or so it seems.  It’s as if the writer and director were giving us a cap full of the Washington Capitals playoff season.  Ouch.

“An Unfinished Life” stars a hat trick trio that puts in a power play performance worthy of every hat being tossed to the ice. Playing center is Jennifer Lopez, a young, widowed mother who has no one and nowhere to go except to her deceased husband’s father, who blames her for his son’s death. The dad is played by Robert Redford, who’s an old fart with a cold heart; ’nuff said. Rounding out the All Star lineup is my man Morgan Freeman, the only friend Redford’s character has; and he’s got a story to tell as well. Throw in the plunky, spunky adolescent daughter and the local love interest for love starved, affection craving JLo, and voila, you’ve got a ready-made, dysfunctional bunch of denizens ripe for redemption.

You get the feeling that the title of the film is not just about the dead son and husband and father, whom we never meet (not even through flashbacks – thank God!), whose life ended suddenly and abruptly.  The film depicts a dysfunctional family and the long, arduous road back to functionality through blood, sweat and tears. And it’s also about all of our ragged and unfinished, rough and unvarnished lives which hold so much promise and potential yet fail to reach or maintain spiritual maturity.

That pretty much sums up the Washington Capitals perennial playoff picture; unfortunate and unexpected and unfinished. Some would say it’s unfair. The Capitals are down 3-1 to the Pittsburgh Penguins, and once again they’re on the verge of facing yet another early exit from the playoffs.  The Capitals have finished first in the LEAGUE for at least four of the last six years, yet they can’t seem to duplicate that success in the second season. The question coming from the top of every hockey hounds head is, “Why?”  

And everyone inside the Beltway wonders why as well: why, when we’re the No. 1 Seed once again and we’ve had the best players over the years like Jaromir Jagr and Alexander Ovechkin; why this doesn’t translate into post season success is anybody’s guess. They’re the favorites to win the Stanley cup year in and year out, but their great regular season team consistently falters and flounders and fizzles out long before they should.  

The difference between the actors in this film and the players on the Capitals ice is that redemption finds the actors; and since life is about redemption and restoration, a reversal of fortune for these Caps should be in the cards, right?

For the rest of us, we have hope that redemption will find us, and that one season soon, redemption will come a’ calling for the Washington Capitals team too.