At the beginning of each NHL season, all 30 teams believe that they have an opportunity to make a compelling run towards the Stanley Cup the following spring.
However, realistically, the number of teams that have the necessary talent and experience to do so is closer to half that, and the group of clubs that genuinely expect to win the Cup is even smaller.
For the last four seasons, the Washington Capitals have entered training camp with the expectation that they'll at least contend for a berth in the Stanley Cup Finals, but still have not advanced beyond the second round of the playoffs since 1998.
Though the Caps have boasted impressive lineups since winning their first of four consecutive Southeast Division titles in 2008, the group that George McPhee has assembled for the 2011-12 NHL season is more than likely the best roster in franchise history.
Since the team is loaded with skill and grit from top-to-bottom, the Capitals' ownership, management team and fanbase genuinely expect this squad to bring home the franchise's first Cup, or else there will be major personnel changes for the first time in five seasons.
With that in mind, here's a look at the top seven reasons why anything less than a Stanley Cup will be considered a failure for the Washington Capitals in 2012.