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.

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

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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.

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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.

Yet Another Washington Washout

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It seems like it was just yesterday when the sports world was awakened by an upstart, wannabe Wizards team that wasn’t worthy of winning a playoff game, much less a playoff series. Wait a minute – it was just yesterday. On the eve of their first home playoff game in what seems like a generation, the Washington Wizards were on the verge of going up 3 games to none and possibly sweeping the Chicago Bulls right out of the playoffs.

It seems that now, even after just one game, the momentum has swung, the mood has shifted and the motivation to win is all with those fierce and feisty Bulls who don’t seem to be want to go quietly.

It seems that of late, Washington sports teams just can’t catch a break. The Redskins won the NFC East in 2012, only to fall flat on their faces in 2013. The Capitals were the top seeded team in the NHL playoffs in 2010, only to be slap-shot right of the first round that same year. And the Nationals won the National League East in 2012, only to whiff and not make the playoffs the next. Go figure.

And it seems that the Wizards are going to follow suit. After making the playoffs and un-expectantly winning the first two games ON THE ROAD, the Wizards just had to find a way to implode. And implode they did. Midway through the fourth quarter, with only a two point deficit to overcome, the Wizards managed to give the game away. They lost their composure, lost their cool and ended up losing the game. Nene committed a No- No by getting himself ejected over a silly push from wiper-snapper Jimmy Butler.

It seems that the altercation wasn’t that serious, but Nene took it there, and his num-headedness cost him, and his teammates. It was a turning point in the game, as the Bulls gathered strength while the Wizards lost their footing and from that point on they could never get over the hump.

So, while it seems that the Wizards have lost some steam, it aint over till it’s over. Let’s hope that they can bounce-back and not succumb and make this yet another Washington washout.