Last season, the Washington Capitals won the Southeast Division for the fourth year in a row. They also suffered a disappointing, premature playoff loss for the fourth year in a row.
Once again, the Capitals followed up their playoff defeat with a big summer. The team improved a lot, remodeling the squad and changing the look of the organization.
That said, there gets to a certain point where you cannot improve the playing the squad anymore. The roster can only get so good. There is more to a team than just the players. The backroom staff is important to success as well.
Capitals head coach Bruce Boudreau has been heavily criticized after the second round sweep at the hands of the Tampa Bay Lightning. Fans and analysts alike are wondering whether or not he is the man to bring Washington the Stanley Cup. He is arguably the best regular season coach in the league, but he has yet to show any success in the postseason. For a team with Cup aspirations, regular season success is not enough.
You wonder how much longer Ted Leonsis and his management are willing to stand by Boudreau. You wonder what will happen should the Capitals fail again. You wonder what would happen should the greater fanbase be heard.
As mentioned, the Capitals are improved. The team will be better than previous seasons, and regular season success should be no big boundary. That said, a long playoff run is a must this season for Boudreau and co. If he fails to bring them to at least the conference finals, Boudreau might not be back for the 2012-13 season.
Follow Washington Capitals Featured Columnist Jake Ware on Twitter at @JacobWare95