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Midseason Reflections January 11, 2008

Posted by CapitalSpirit in Uncategorized.

“What matters is not what you have behind you.  What matters is not what you have before you.  What matters is what you have within you.”

I left that thought out there the other night, and it’s time for me to expound on it like I said I would.

 The Caps are now a little more than halfway done with the season, and are currently languishing in 13th place in the Eastern Conference.  Their next four games are all at home, and how this homestand goes might very well make or break their playoff hopes.  Olie Kolzig himself was quoted a couple of days ago saying that the Caps needed to run the table on this homestand.  Counting the road win in Montreal last Saturday, that would put them on a six-game win streak–something this team hasn’t done since back in the twentieth century.

(Side note: does it feel as weird for you to read that as it felt for me to type it?  How time flies.  Anyway…)

Now, were we to look at the Caps’ overall record, we might very well scoff at the idea.  How can this team, which was so woefully underperforming earlier this year, suddenly rattle off that kind of a win streak–and under a rookie NHL bench boss at that?  Add in injuries to some key players, and it might be very easy to say that at least one of next week’s games is a game this team can lose.

Or is there another way to look at it?

If we go by the maxim that I opened this post with, we can just forget the past right now.  So our record says we’re 13th.  Big deal–they’re not going to give the visitors a goal or two to start the game based on points in the standings.  Each game is its own, occurring within its own time and space.  Where we were yesterday means nothing to where we are now.  Our record is our record; our past is settled.  It’s over.  It’s done.  There’s nothing we can do about it now.  Therefore, we can–and perhaps we should–ignore our record, and get out there and do the very best we can.  No more, no less.  What matters is not what you have behind you.

It’s also a bit counterproductive to look at the upcoming schedule and say, this doesn’t look good here, ohmigosh the Penguins have our number, our 3 games left with Boston are foregone conclusions…bunk.  Don’t play next week’s game today–worry about next week’s game next week.  Some of the more terrestrial prognosticators might very well look down the rest of our schedule, and try to predict the balance of our season based on where we stand right now.  My response to that is something Miss Piggy does in the bathtub.


Forget the future.  Don’t look ahead.  The future will soon be the present, and worrying about what’s yet to come will cause today’s game to slide into the unalterable past–and likely as not, under adverse circumstances.  What matters is not what you have before you.

Our way ahead, if we want to make the playoffs at this point, is not to think about the hole we dug in October, for October’s games cannot be played again.  Our way ahead is not to play March’s games in January, for March’s games cannot be played until March.  Our way ahead is to be in the Now, to embrace this moment, and this, and this, and this.  Our way ahead is not to think ahead.  It is to realize that this moment, right now, is a moment that cannot be experienced again.

I read a Guideposts article several years back about a high school basketball coach whose motto was, “The season starts tomorrow.”  Now, that could certainly be backhanded good news if the Caps have just hacked up a hairball against the Penguins.  But we can’t afford that luxury at this point.  Our winning season starts tomorrow–it must.  For that matter, our post-season starts tomorrow–it must, as well.

Which brings us now to “what you have within you.”  Simply put, does this team, right now, have the heart of a championship team?  It certainly doesn’t look like the bunch that gave up a fin to the Thrashers the night before Thanksgiving.  And now that our superstar has committed to stay here for the next 13 years, that might well provide a spiritual and emotional lift to carry the team through the homestand.

It comes down, as ever, to Spirit:  that inner fire that gives you life, that warms your heart, that lights your journey.  And I believe that this team now is showing signs of having that fire, that sun, that light.  Whether they accept that for the balance of the season is not for me to guess.  But if they do, they may find out that fire purifies, as well; and if they can embrace that, they may very well end up contending not for a mere playoff berth, but for a division championship.

There’s a lot of hockey on the books, and a lot more hockey left to play.  But what matters now is neither the past, nor the future; what matters is the spirit and soul of this team.  And THAT, I think, is certainly headed in the right direction.





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