Cinderella vs. Cinderella!

I called it! I’m not bragging or anything but I absolutely called it. The Washington Capitals just defeated the Tampa Bay Lightning in a Game 7 ON THE ROAD, and for the first time in franchise history, mind you, they’ve reached the Stanley Cup Finals.

Now it’s the Las Vegas Golden Knights versus the Washington Capitals for the championship – Lord Stanley’s Cup. It’s a unique matchup. It’s unprecedented and almost unheard of.

These two teams were not picked to go this far or to fair this well. But they have overcome the odds and come over the obstacles laid out against them. The Caps and Golden Knights have recovered their own fumbles and debunked the doubters and jeared the court jesters to reach the threshold of the summit of their sport. These two teams now make it almost impossible for the casual observer to choose a fair-haired favorite or pick the one most popular.

Sports fans now have a “Sophia’s Choice.” In other words, the NHL now has a peculiar problem. We now have two Cinderella teams going head – to – head, playing for all the marbles. But only one team can win. Because no participation trophies will be given out here. The lone winner takes home the Stanley Cup Trophy!

So who ya got?

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The Las Vegas Golden Knights!

Who would have thunk it? Few would have thought it. And fewer still would have dreamed it. The expansion team in Vegas, the Golden Knights, the dark horse in the race to win the Stanley Cup, are one step away from winning it all. What a story.

The Las Vegas Golden Knights became the second expansion team in the NHL, NBA, NFL or MLB history since 1960 to reach a championship series in their first season. The other team was the 1967-68 St. Louis Blues. It’s an incredible success for a team that had no expectations. The Golden Knights’ management publicly declared a goal of making the playoffs in three years and competing for a Stanley Cup in six.

But in their maiden voyage year, this upstart is about to pull off the unthinkable; an unprecedented triumph of epic proportions. The odds makers had Vegas at 500-1 to win the Stanley Cup Finals! Not 10-1, or even 100-1; 500 -1! Incredible! In theological language, that translates to “they didn’t have a prayer.”

But they must have prayed, because the Hockey gods or the God of Heaven has heard and headed their humble cry.

Who said miracles are a thing of the past?  I’ll be rooting for Vegas!

Five Reasons Why You Should Become  A Washington Capitals Fan

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Number 1: The Washington Capitals need all of the help they can get. This franchise has NEVER been to the Conference Finals, much less taken a whiff at the Stanley Cup Trophy, or even dreamt of WINNING the Stanley Cup. So you see? The Caps need your faith and your hope and your love. They need you to push and to pull and to yell and to scream and to scratch and to claw them to the top. In other words, the Caps need help in every sense of the word.

Number 2: The Capitals are playing a really good team in the Tampa Bay Lightning, and everyone has predicted that the Lightning are going to blitzkrieg the Capitals into playoff oblivion. But not so fast; at last check, the Capitals were winning Game One 4-0.

Number 3: The Washington Capitals finally got the monkey off of their back and exorcised their demons, advancing past the Pittsburgh Penguins after dropping their past two playoff series to their rival. Thus the Caps have a feel-good story second only to the Las Vegas Knights, who are drawing fans who don’t even know how to spell hockey. And the Caps need your help because they have their work cut out for them as the Tampa Bay Lightning are favored to win this series, if not the Stanley Cup.

Number 4. The real feel-good story of the 2018 NHL Playoffs would feature the Capitals against the Las Vegans Knights in the Stanley Cup Finals. Now THAT would be must see TV. And Hockey needs all of the fans it can get. So if the Caps can get past the Lightning AND face the aforementioned darling Las Vegas Knights for the Cup, we all should be glued to our TV sets to see sports history in the making.

And Number 5:  The Capitals are the underdogs. And we all know that we all should root, root, root for the underdog. If the Capitals win, it would be an epic story, an upset for the ages, and a turnaround tantamount to the some of the greatest sports stories, ever. And the Caps need your help, not just because they’re any underdog, but especially because they are an underdog that has a small fan base, or more to the point, a small hockey fan base. Let’s face it; Washington DC is a football town. In other words, since the Redskins aren’t playing, the casual DC fan doesn’t know that the Caps even made it this far in the playoffs.

For all these reasons, and more, Rock the Red!

Go Caps!

What’s Up With Sports in Philly? — Spring 2018 Edition

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The Philadelphia 76ers are in Fourth place, that’s fourth with a FOUR, in the Eastern Conference. Not eighth or seventh or even sixth. Fourth Place, just one half game behind the Cleveland Cavaliers.  Not only did they make the playoffs this year, they look to make a push past the first round.  Not too shabby, huh?  As Joel Embiid said, “Trust the Process!”

And of course the Eagles just won the Super Bowl. And the Phillies are adding to their roster like there’s no tomorrow. “Win Now!” right! And the Flyers are in the running for a wild card berth in the NHL playoffs. So if you’re a Philly fan, what’s not to like?

As wonderful and as astonishing as the Eagles Super Bowl win was, the Sixers are looking better and better with every successive win as they try to keep up with their football brothers in the miracle winning season category. How far can the Sixers go in the post season? Just how good are these guys, namely Embiid, Simmons and now Markelle Fultz? Did I mention that Fultz is back? Whoa Baby!

I am a student of winning teams. After years of study, I have concluded that what highly successful team possess that marginally productive teams lack is chemistry. The  Eagles definitely had it. And we see where that got them, right? And the Sixers have it too. They absolutely have “IT”.

And so the conclusion is this; dare we say that sports in Philly is trending the right way?

All I Want For Christmas

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Here’s a little lullaby from every Philly fan everywhere to the Eagles and the Sixers, and to the Flyers and Phillies, if they’re listening. All we want for Christmas is for you to win the last game of the season – the playoff season. That means winning a championship in football and basketball, please.

The Eagles are almost there. No Wentz? No Problem!  Nick Foles and the Eagle Offense kept right on humming along. And the Sixers? Well, while we thought they were well on their way, they may in fact be a season or two from making that Christmas wish come true.

So Philly fans, let’s hope that Nick Foles has it him for one, and that our winning wonder Carson Wentz will be back next fall for a few more. As for the Sixers; well, Ebmiid and Simmons, at lease WIN on Christmas Day! Please?!

Santa, are you listening?

I just want you (the Eagles) for my own
More than you could ever know
Make my wish come true
All I want for Christmas is (for) you … TO WIN!

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.