Washington Capitals 2018 Stanley Cup Champions: Pain Is Part Of The Process

Ovechkin Lifting Stanley Cup Trophy
Washington Capitals 2018 Stanley Cup Champions as Ovechkin Lifts Stanley Cup Trophy

Pain is part of the process. The Washington Capitals players and fans and coaches and commentators have all endured much pain over their 44 year history. But after all of the pain and disdain, finally comes victorious gain. Finally, the Washington Capitals are kings of the hockey world.

The Washington Capitals defeated the Las Vegas Golden Knights to win their first Stanley Cup Trophy. And the championship was a long time comin’. The Capitals had been stained with the loser label since 1974-75, when the expansion team won just eight games, still the NHL’s worst campaign. After 44 years, 3,701 regular and postseason games and 28 playoff appearances — the most by an NHL, MLB, NBA or NFL team at the time of its first title — the Washington Capitals are Stanley Cup champions. And pain was part of the process. https://sports.yahoo.com/stanley-cup-run-could-capitals-playoff-failures-055535489–nhl.html 

NHL teams leading 3-1 in a best-of-seven series have won 91 percent of the time (276-28). Of those 28, the Capitals have blown such a lead five times – FIVE TIMES – the most of any team. But there was no such falloff this time.   As checkered playoff histories go, the Washington Capitals haven’t been around nearly as long as some NHL teams, but their track record was still long and sad. For instance, the Caps have lost nine of 11 postseason meetings against the Pittsburgh Penguins alone, and each loss is filled to the brim with gut-wrenching letdowns.  Because pain is part of the process.

But this year, all of that turned around.

This year, the Caps defeated their longtime rival, those same Pittsburg Penguins, and made it to the Eastern Conference Finals. They rode a hot goalie to the Stanley Cup Finals, and their long time star, Alex Ovechkin, finally led his team to hockey’s Promised Land. Since Ovechkin’s arrival in 2004, drafted first overall, his presence eventually brought more regular season success, and with a young superstar core of him and center Nicklas Backstrom, a first championship felt inevitable. However, Ovechkin has admitted that he sometimes took it for granted that he would win a championship, perhaps taking for granted how hard it can be to win. And Ove learned that pain is part of the process.

Surprising no one, Ovechkin was named MVP of the playoffs, securing the Conn Smythe trophy. Ovechkin finished as the postseason’s leading goal-scorer with 15. Ovechkin, who had never made it out of the second round before this season, was all smiles as he made his way through the fourth and final happy handshake line of this incredible postseason run for the Capitals. 

So let’s learn the lesson. Pain must be part of the process. But our pain is not in vain. Because after a while, it leads to eternal gain, just like the Bible says.

Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides.  You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors.  So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.

THE MESSAGE

 

Dear brothers, is your life full of difficulties and temptations? Then be happy,  for when the way is rough, your patience has a chance to grow.  So let it grow, and don’t try to squirm out of your problems. For when your patience is finally in full bloom, then you will be ready for anything, strong in character, full and complete.    TLB

 

And of course our beloved King James Version reads like this:

My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing. 

KJV

Hockey Fans Unite!

alexander-ovechkin-art

Are you watching the 2018 NHL Playoffs? No? Ok, well, neither am I, but that’s not the point. I’m a sports fan, and I live in the Washington D.C. market, so I am paying attention to the Washington Capitals/Pittsburgh Penguins Second Round Series.  Real sports fans at least check the scoreboard in all of the four major food groups, er, sports, right?

The Caps are up 2-1 on the Pens because Alexander Ovechkin scored the game winner in Game 3 with about one minute remaining in the third period. Game 4’s coming up in Pittsburgh, and the Caps seem to have the momentum. And they’ll need it. Because if you don’t know, the Caps have never, no never, beaten the Penguins in a playoff series. EVER. And some say they can’t and won’t, but there’s a lot of hockey left to be played, so here’s to hope.

The Capitals looked like they were dead in the water in the First Round, down 0-2 to the Columbus Blue Jackets, and they lost those first two games AT HOME! But the Caps came all the way back and won four straight to take the series, 4-2. So there’s hope for the Caps, right?

And a buddy of mine at work told me that 5 of the 8 remaining teams in the 2018 NHL Playoffs have never won the Stanley Cup Trophey. Wow (but don’t ask me to name them). So the odds are that one of these also ran, always-a-brides-maid-but-never-a-bride teams could win it all this year. Including everyone’s darling, the expansion Las Vegas Knights.

So here’s to hope.  As Jessie Jackson taught us way back in the ‘70’s, “Keep Hope Alive!” Because if you ain’t got hope, you ain’t got nothin’.

Hope For The Best, Plan For The Worst

DC Sports

That’s EXACTLY what every Washington, D.C. sports team and sports fan should be doing this Christmas. And here’s why: the skinny is that Kirk Cousins can’t fish so he’s cutting bait; John Wall is wondering about wandering elsewhere, and Bryce Harper is soon to be a has-been in DC. There. That’s it.  So for DC fans, this Christmas may be the one to ask Santa for a new roster for the Redskins, Wizards and Nationals.

First, Cousins. He’s the one most likely to leave.  The Redskins can’t seem to get it together even with his stellar stats. They’ve been talking about what to do with him his entire time in this town, and nothing seems to be working when it comes to winning.

GTY 681706006 S SPO BKO BKN USA MA
BOSTON, MA – MAY 10: John Wall of the Washington Wizards looks on during the second half of Game Five of the Eastern Conference Semifinals against the Boston Celtics at TD Garden on May 10, 2017 in Boston, Massachusetts. The Celtics defeat the Wizards 123-101. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

John Wall just looks so sad and unhappy. His team is a middle of the pack, just make the playoffs, wannabe championship team anyway, to why stay? Will the Wizzards win with Wall? Absolutely NOT! They need more help and more hope and more heart than they have or can afford. So, Wall may not stay – on the wall – with the Wizards in DC.

And then there’s Harper. He’s the poster child for the Washington Nationals. His name is Bryce and his game is nice but his team just doesn’t seem to have what it takes to get over the hump.

And dare I mention Alex Ovechkin?  The rockin’ red Capitals captain is culpable too, and the Caps can get some of this love as well. Their golden boy may bolt or buck for the back door, and if he doesn’t I’ll shocked.

If all of these stars fall from their studs, where will that leave sports in DC? Dreams of sugarplumbs and superstars with Super Bowl rings will dance right out of everyones head. Or maybe not.  All of these stars could succeed somewhere else. If they do, more power to ’em.

The best that can happen after the inevitable worst is that all of DC’s teams retool and recharge and restock their rosters.  “Next Man Up” should be the mantra for the Reskins, Wizards, Nationals and Capitals. 

So, hope for the best, but you better plan for the worst.  Stop trying to win with what will not work. In 2018, try something new. Hence, out with the old. Throw out that old rag or shoe or comfortable thing that’s not getting you anywhere fast. And forget about the game plan that’s got you nowhere.

So here’s a note for Washington DC teams and for all the rest of us who are struggling to get going: for 2018, it’s time to go with Plan “B,” especially if Plan “A” isn’t getting the job done.

Sports in Washington, DC: Up and Down and All Around

2014dcsportsWeb

The Wizards just won a First Round playoff series by sweeping the Toronto Raptors.

The Nationals are tied for last place.

The Capitals play Game 7 tonight against their arch rivals, the New York Islanders, and;

The Redskins just picked up the option on RGIII’s contract, but I’m not even going there.

US_Capitol_Building_at_Night_Washington_DC

Sports in Washington, D.C. Oh boy. Hold on tight to your dreams.   If there ever was a city that was up and down and all around, when it comes to sports, it’s the Nation’s Capital.  So much promise. So little delivery.  If it weren’t for the little matter of three Super Bowl wins for the defunct Redskins, now otherwise known as the “Deadskins” and those Vince Lombardi trophies that came along with ‘em, the city would be on a sports suicide watch. But let’s not paint such a pitiful picture.

First, the good news: The Wizards proved that they are a legitimate playoff contender.  Not only did they win a first round series, they whupped and walloped the Atlantic Division winners. It was a matchup of the 5 Seed defeating a Four Seed, but what the hey; a win, is a win, is a win. Now it’s on to the Atlanta Hawks, if and when they beat the Milwaukee Bucks.  It should be an entertaining series and one the Wizards should win.  But we’ll wait and see.

Now for the not-so-good news: The Nationals. They just lost five straight. Not good.  They were picked to not only go to the World Series, but to WIN the World Series. That’s great, except this early season slump has got a lot of the locals a little leery and loopy.  Yes it’s a long season. No this was not expected. Yes they are somewhat shorthanded. No the pundits shouldn’t panic yet. At least not yet.

As for the Capitals, where do we begin?  Scott Allen of the Washington Post says this:

You’re right to be nervous. You’re forgiven if you’re full of dread. Even if you weren’t around for the first Game 7 in Washington Capitals franchise history 28 years ago, you were around for the most recent, and probably several other of the 10 Game 7s — most of them heartbreaking — in between. Nine losses in 12 games, all scarring in their own ways.

The Capitals play their lucky 13th Game 7 on Monday against the New York Islanders, the same franchise that ended Washington’s first Game 7 at 1:58 a.m. on April 19, 1987. That history doesn’t matter to the players on the ice, of course.

But as all tried and true sports fans know, history DOES matter. And history is not on the Capitals side.  So we’re all waiting with baited breath so see what happens tonight. I’m too scared to watch!

And so it is with most of us. Sometimes we’re up and sometimes we’re down and most times we’re all around. We want to be on top and in first and at our best all of the time. But life doesn’t work that way. We are oft times frail and fragile and not always fleet and agile.  We can be flimsy and whimsy and rocky and rickety and we need help. And lots of it. Humans in general and sports fans in specific need all the help we can get.

Since we’re all up and down and all around, some depend on luck.  If it weren’t for bad sports luck, some of us wouldn’t have any sports luck at all. What’s that? We don’t believe in luck? I thought we believed in Andrew Luck? https://godandsports.net/2015/01/11/i-believe-in-luck-2-0/ OK, he’s AFC and he’s a time zone away. I get it.

I choose to depend on God.  He always comes through. Maybe not for our teams, but for us and our dreams, He does, when we trust Him.  

So take heart, Washington D .C. sports fans. The light at the end of the tunnel isn’t an oncoming trail.  I don’t think.