It’s Apple Blossom Time again, one of my most favorite times of year when the Winchester, Va. community comes together for a week-long pink and green party. Because of this year’s early warmth, the actual blooms are long gone, but that does not stop the celebration.
I was talking to longtime friend, listener, and Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival President Mike Stanfield this week at the Sponsor’s Reception, and in addition to sharing lots of “Bloom” memories from 34 years of working the Festival, we both agreed that the SABF is something that’s unique to the area, and in today’s homogenized world something to be cherished and enjoyed.
For my part of the Bloom, I will be once again running in the AB 10-K on Saturday morning. I’ve done the work this year, and hope to break 60-minutes. Then, it’s a quick shower and change of clothes, and into the TV booth to cover the Festival’s centerpiece event, the Grand Feature Parade. By producer Rick Ours’ count, this is the 11th year that yours truly and fellow morning radio personality Barry Lee have teamed up for the broadcast. Always a fun afternoon.
There is also lots on the sports docket this weekend: The 143rd running of the Kentucky Derby, Wizards playoff basketball, hopefully some curly W’s from the Nationals, and Shenandoah University ODAC tournament baseball and women’s lacrosse.
Oh, and the Washington Capitals. You can almost hear the laments of “Same Ol Caps”, as the best regular season team in the NHL (again) is on the verge of being eliminated (again) by the Pittsburgh Penguins. As of this Friday writing, the Capitals are down 3-1 in the best of 7 series, despite dominating performances by Washington in several of those losses. To break it down in the most simplistic way possible, the puck just hasn’t gone in the net.
While that’s not the most profound thing you’ll ever read, I will point out that of all the major sports, hockey is the most unique, especially at playoff time. I contend that in the NHL playoffs, home field advantage isn’t that important. Winning the Stanley Cup is all about riding a hot goaltender, and “puck luck.” Shots that hit the pipe, shots that carom off your own player into the opposition’s net, you get the idea. And year after year, the “puck luck” seemingly goes against the Capitals.
You can dominate a hockey game and not win. You can play great and not score. Since 2010, there have been 51 NHL playoff games in which the winning team had fewer that 25 shots-on-goal and the losing team had more than 35 shots. The Caps have 8 of those losses. Case in point, Washington outshot the Pens 38-19 in Game 4.
And, there is the “hot goaltender” angle. The Caps are facing a red-hot Marc Andre Fleury , who is making save after incredible save for the Penguins. Meanwhile, Washington’s Braden Holtby, one of the best in the NHL, is having a sub-par playoff season. He will have to be superhuman if the Caps have any chance to win an improbable 3 in a row and advance.
It seemed as if the Capitals caught a break, when Pittsburgh superstar Sid Crosby missed game 4 due to concussion issues suffered in Game 3. However, Washington’s stars, like Captain Alex Ovechkin, were the ones that seemed to be missing as a gritty Pens team won 3-2 to take control of the series.
They say you make your own luck, and the Caps have tried. The “hockey gods” have had other ideas. Here’s to some “puck luck” in Game 5…
Until next visit, enjoy The Bloom and GO HORNETS!