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

ALL CAPS!

 The Washington Capitals are leading 3-1 in the Stanley Cup Finals. Yes, the Washington Capitals! Not only did they make it to the Finals, but they are dominating the opposition, the Las Vegas Golden Knights. And I’m happy for them, and for all of Washington D.C., a town starving and chomping at the bit for a sports champion.

 So here’s to the Caps. It’s All CAPs all the time around the Capital Beltway these days. ALL CAPS means that the team and the fans are ultra and extra and frenzied and fanatical. And I’m happy for them. Yes I am. Because the Bible says that you should rejoice with those that rejoice. So, this time, since it’s been a long time a comin’ for this team that has tried and tried again and again to get to the top, let’s hope that they get there this time.

 

Go Caps!

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!

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’.

“The Donald” May Trump Them All

donald_trump

Donald Trump is running for president. Of the United States. Of America. And in case you haven’t thought this through, as volatile and visceral as he’s been in the past, the fact that he’s running is not the big news. The fact — and it is a fact — that Trump could actually WIN the White House is even more jolting and jarring, at least for some of us. Coming out of the recent Republican Candidates Debate, he’s the front-runner. That’s right. Trump has actually taken the lead and leads the pack — and it’s certainly a pitiful pack of possibles at that —  with 25% of the vote, according to some sources.

“Bloomberg Politics Managing Editor Mark Halperin stated that Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has ‘reached a turning point’ where the ‘establishment candidates’ think he can win Iowa; ‘most’ believe he can win the nomination, and ‘a significant number think he could win the White House.’ ” Of all the paltry possibles running, Trump may in fact trump them all.

 And “The Donald” may well trump us all.  He’s pulling no punches and taking no prisoners.  And since politics is a blood sport, we will certainly see much more of his brash, brazen, bravado until the final whistle sounds and the fat lady sings after the last ballot is tallied next Fall. 

So what does all of this mean? Well, for starters, it’s important to know that sports and politics are similar and the same. Politics is like baseball because the season is long and the race is not given to the swift nor the battle to the strong. Politics is like football because the ball, or the focus of the “game,” has an uncanny tendency to bounce in a funny way. Politics is like basketball because you need to play all four quarters; winning the first half doesn’t necessarily mean that you will win the game, which can be won and lost in the last two minutes. And politics is like hockey; you have to be strong and be able to take a hit.

Politics is like sports and sports are like politics. You don’t know who is going to win, so that’s why you play the games and keep score.  Anything can happen to change the race between now and Election Day, 2016.  And so the lesson is this: if the believers who still believe that God’s got the whole world in his hands will just believe and stop telling Heaven who should be in the White House, then our faith in Him will carry us through.