This picture of Carole Lombard with Gene Raymond, from "Mr. & Mrs. Smith," almost certainly was taken amidst a backdrop of fake snow at RKO. Actually, Carole did shoot a film in winter weather -- 1929's "High Voltage," her first all-talkie (see below, with that era's equivalent of Harvey Weinstein):
I wanted winter weather photos because the subject of tonight's entry is ice hockey. I have no idea whether Carole ever saw a hockey game in her life; some accounts of the automobile accident while a teenager that derailed her career as a Fox starlet say she was returning from a hockey game. But since we don't even have any specifics on when the crash occurred, no one really knows.
We do know, however, that there is a new Stanley Cup champion. And it's the...
They won the Cup tonight, rallying in the third period for a 4-3 triumph over the Vegas Golden Knights. Washington won the best-of-seven finals in five games.
Since I'm a former D.C.-area resident, this is nirvana...particularly for anyone familiar with the Capitals' tortured history, which started from day one. While the Knights reached unprecedented heights for a first-year team, the Caps' initial season of 1974-75 was the opposite. They went 8-67-5, and a miserable 1-39 on the road (that lone victory came in Oakland against the soon-to-be-defunct California Golden Seals). They lost 17 in a row at one point, and four of their defeats were by 10 or more goals (http://bleacherreport.com/articles/2217902-debut-debacle-remembering-the-expansion-capitals-worst-ever-1974-75-season).
In the early '80s, the Capitals had yet to qualify for the playoffs, and the franchise's future appeared shaky. But a "Save the Caps" campaign for season tickets in 1982-83 (one of which I bought) rescued hockey in Washington, and they finally made the playoffs...which leads to part II of Caps agony.
Ten times in the history of Washington playoff hockey, the team has led by two games in a series and failed to advance. Four of those came against Pittsburgh, a frequent postseason nemesis (the Penguins had won seven straight series from the Caps). This was the 28th playoff appearance for Washington, a record number without a title in the NHL, NBA, NFL or major league baseball...until now.
Alex Ovechkin entered 2017-2018 as the game's top goal-scorer since entering the NHL in 2005, but without a title to show for it. In fact, the Caps hadn't gone past the second round in the Ovechkin era, and the 2017-2018 Capitals weren't expected to be as strong as recent teams.
When they lost the first two postseason games at home to the Columbus Blue Jackets, it appeared to be the same old song for the Caps. But they won four straight, then finally vanquished the Penguins in the second round. In the Eastern Conference finals against the Tampa Bay Lightning, Washington won the first two, lost the next three, then posted two Braden Holtby shutouts to advance to the finals for the first time since 1998, when the Caps were swept by Detroit.
Vegas won the opener at home, but the Caps captured game 2 there -- sparked by Holtby's late clutch save -- then won the next two at Capital One Arena before the clincher, where Ovechkin scored a goal. He would receive the Conn Smythe Trophy for his postseason heroics, as Washington went wild.
And why shouldn't they? D.C.'s pro sports history has little of this. The old Washington Senators had a "golden decade" from 1924 to 1933 (three American League pennants, one World Series); the Redskins captured three Super Bowls between 1982 and 1991. Forty years ago tonight, the Washington Bullets (now the Wizards) won their lone NBA title in Seattle against the Supersonics (now the Oklahoma City Thunder). Beyond that in the "big four" sports? Close to zilch.
Washington sports fans, who hadn't had a champion in more than a quarter-century, embraced the Caps...and D.C.'s other athletes did, too. That's the Washington Nationals' Max Scherzer -- arguably baseball's best pitcher -- and Ryan Zimmerman in full hockey gear cheering on the Caps in game 4 of the finals. Teammate Bryce Harper, a Las Vegas native who until this season never had a hometown team of his own, wore a Knights sweater and was criticized by some D.C. fans. But a pair of tweets Thursday night revealed his mixed emotions:
Will Bryce, Max and Ryan have a Pennsylvania Avenue parade of their own this fall? We shall see. Meanwhile, Washington is celebrating well into the night.