Heading into the 2011-12 NHL season, the Washington Capitals were considered by many to be a Stanley Cup contender. During the regular season, the Caps looked like a collection of highly paid players who didn't mesh well together. They found themselves in danger of missing the postseason for the first time since 2006-07.
Despite their struggles from September to April, Washington pulled off one of the greatest upsets in franchise history as the Caps dispatched the defending Stanley Cup champions in dramatic fashion.
For Capitals fans, the opening round triumph over Boston was a hefty consolation prize after the team underperformed so badly during the regular season, but the honeymoon didn't last long,
Though eliminating the Bruins was an impressive accomplishment for a team that was all but left for dead by the rest of the league, the Caps once again failed to advance to the Conference Finals, so the season will be regarded as a failure in many respects.
That being said, there are reasons for Washingtonians to be optimistic about the Caps' future. The organization boasts a solid core of veterans signed for the long haul and a group of young talents who appear to be on the verge of stardom.
Although many Caps fans will come away from the 2011-12 NHL campaign with the bitter taste of postseason disappointment lingering, here are seven reasons why the fan base should have faith in the team's chances of winning a Stanley Cup.