Number of People Nice Enough to Stop By....

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Mandi, we hardly knew Ye....

I know this is who read me posts regularly know that I'm, uh, behind in a lot of my articles.  But this one had to be done, and done when I had the time to do it well.  So, comme toujours, I ask you to bear with me while I get the words out.  I find myself once again in a very unpleasant time in my life so I'm in need of some inspiration, an example of how to keep going in trying times.  I didn't have to look very far.

As everyone in the hockey world has known for about two weeks now, Yale University's Mandi Schwartz was taken from us by leukemia.  But not unlike just about everyone who has ever laced up the skates, she put up one hell of a fight before she left.

The concept of a fight is simple--even if you know you can't win, the idea is to give at least as good as you get.  Mandi did that--and more.  She bested leukemia once in 2008-09 and I'm sure only the limits of the human body prevented from besting it again. 

Her story prompted the now-famous worldwide search for a bone marrow donor.  They came close to finding a perfect match, but it never happened.  The decision was made to try a stem-cell transplant, which seemed to work.  But as we all know, nothing in life is a guarantee and the cancer that was in remission returned to drop the gloves again.

To me, as it was to everyone close to her, it was her fighting the good fight that mattered more than anything.  Here's what she said shortly after she put cancer in remission:

“I knew I could fight through it, and everyone around me was telling me that I could do it, so I didn’t really have a choice to think otherwise.”

If only we could all live our lives like not even see the bad.  To mentally block out the despair and just forge a way through.   From all accounts, that's pretty much how she played the game on the ice as well.
THIS is why she is an example not just to female athletes and those with cancer, but to anyone facing adversity.  Not saying it was easy for her to be sure, but she had the stuff to endure it--mentally and spiritually.

I'd like to focus a bit on what Mandi did on the ice.  I have to admit this wasn't exactly something I had a whole lot of knowledge about before I wrote this, but as much as she gave off the ice, she was pretty good on it as well.  She was listed as a forward.  How many people know that, as a Sophomore, she once had three assists in one game?  I didn't.  That's all I ever needed to know to get an idea of her ability and demeanor on the ice, but if you want to know more, check out her profile, especially the last line.

I have to mention something else...her story is reminiscent of another very special person in the hockey world--Roger Neilson.  Roger's example lives on as does Mandi's because they matched each other in their selflessness and devotion to the game.

I mentioned their selflessness and devotion--Roger Neilson left behind Roger's House.  Mandi Schwartz has Mandi's Heroes.  Both are dedicated to making the world better for those who are suffering.  Can't get any nobler than that.  Please visit Mandi's site here.

I can't help but wonder what heaven is like with her up there playing and him coaching...that would be awesome to watch.

It seems strange to draw strength from the story of someone's life and death, but if it's one thing I've learned (and relearned so many times) it's that sometimes you have to use whatever you can to get through.  Others have Mandi is another great example of how a life, however brief, can shine brightly.  Thank you for providing a light in a time of darkness.  You will never be forgotten.

This is my favorite picture of Mandi.

I'd like to acknowledge many others who have told her story, and their own much better than I have here.  You can read the articles at the links below:

Thanks to all those who read...may you all find a way out of whatever darkness you're enduring.


Friday, April 15, 2011

Fun with a Playoff Tradition

For those of you that have even read a few of my posts, you know that I don't hold a very high opinion of one Greg Wyshinski, AKA Puck Daddy--he of the Yahoo! NHL blog.  No, I am NOT a wannabe, though I would love to have his job.  I think his view of the league, and especially of my team is very skewed and most of his articles either irrelevant or redundant. 

But in a recent post I saw that he did, I couldn't help but laugh out loud.  He basically took some time to explore, ehh, a different side of a certain playoff tradition--the playoff beard.

I won't go into details, and since I am a good historian, I will simply give credit where credit is due.  I must warn you however, that some of the content is barely PG-13 type material, if not worse.  So you may want to have the little ones avoid it.  Go here for the PD article.

Speaking of history supposedly the playoff beard was started during the 1980 Stanley Cup run by the New York Islanders.  Perhaps the maven, Stan Fischler can verifiy that.  For my part, I love the playoff beard, but mainly because I hate shaving.  Now Mrs. Blueliner of course would rather I gas that superstition for obvious reasons.  Oh well.

Just a short shift for now, more to come around the time of  time of tonight's game!


Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Backing into the Playoffs!

Well folks, this is it, playoffs time...and it is good to be back.

Without going into a long sob story, good fortune has smiled on me after all the months of being away; my work situation seems to have resolved itself so that, income-wise, I'm about back to where I was before all this foolishment happened.   Now if only gas prices would come down....

So with that out of the way, let me, there is too much so let me just sum up:

At first the Caps started out much like they ended last year, horrible power play, yet able to still win a lot of games.  Michal Neuvirth won rookie of the month honors and Puck Daddy made an ass of himself explaining why he shouldn't have been.  I've got four months of pent-up anger and I'm bringing the hate--no one is safe.

Caps pretty much played so-so hockey after that and basically rode their hot start into Thanksgiving, where things went into the tank for the team.  It was about this time things weren't going so well for yours truly, either--no thanks to the economy.  Thank you Mr. President and Congress.  Not that the two are related, but I just like throwing that out there.

The wheels came off not long after the Scott Hannan trade.  Again, not a direct cause.  But after a questionable goal call led to a loss in Dallas, my team was at the top of downhill slide that would start them on an 8-game slide.  It didn't help that the offense decided it was last April again and decided to go to sleep.
All this when the spotlight was brightest and HBO had their cameras on them for the 24/7 special.

In the midst of all this, the Bruce decided the team needed a makeover and start playing more responsibly in their own end.  Let's just say this, while it didn't pay off at first, you certainly cannot argue with the results now.  The Caps finally dropped the loser act in mid-December, just in time for the Winter Classic.  It was a classic alright--a classic mucking and grinding game highlighted by a two-goal performance from Eric Fehr.
It was also the game where Sidney Crosby endured the first of his two hits that resulted in his just making back into practices now.  I'm going to sidestep the idiocy that people brought in by declaring that now ex-Cap David Steckel's accidental collision with Crosby was anything but.  Perhaps they should all be put into the new "quiet room" so they can all shut the hell up.

Caps continue on their .550 ways now lagging behind Tampa Bay for first in the Southeast.  This was the adversity we were all hoping for.  Except the team wasn't getting any better, and injuries weren't helping.

Then came the trade deadline.

Messers Arnott, Sturm, and Wideman were welcome additions to what was (at times) a foundering team.  You certainly can't argue with the results--I think they only lost five games in regulation?  No argument from me anyway.  And while Wideman is (hopefully) temporarily M.I.A., the team has displayed a renewed vigor in its game.  Not going to talk this to death--we've all seen the results.

So they draw the Rangers in Round One.  I won't lie--this is the matchup I wanted the least.  True, the Caps are nowhere near the confused squad that got left in the dust--twice by the Blueshirts earlier this year.  But make no mistake, this team is D-A-N-G-E-R-O-U-S, either with or without Ryan Callahan.  And King Henrik Lundquist does still have the ability to steal a series--arguably one of the best goalies this season.  I ought to know, I had him on my fantasy team.

The pundits have weighed in and seem to be split. Some have the Caps winning in a walk.  Others have the Rangers in a long, knock-down, drag-out, dogfight of a series.  Still others have the Capitals in seven (yet again!).

My prediction?  Sorry, I've watched wayyyyy too much playoff hockey by this team over the years to ever dare think I could predict what might happen.  But I do know this: the playoffs are the one time of year the Capitals have waited for since 51 weeks ago.  We all know what happened then. So, given that, the men in Red best be coming out snorting fire and ready to rip someone's head off right from the first faceoff.  The very first minute will be key.  If they come out flat, even after all they've been through, it'll be a long series.

It's time.............

                   Drop the damn puck!

                               ROCK THE RED!!!!!!