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Is this the year for the Capitals?

Wednesday - 10/5/2011, 12:18pm  ET

AP: b85a2e0d-82ac-4aa0-b489-85bbeb0d3d7a
Will this be the season the Caps put it all together? (AP)

Jonathan Warner, wtop.com

This time will be different.

At least that’s what we thought in 2009, 2010 and 2011. That’s when the Washington Capitals were supposed to win the Stanley Cup.

Certainly in 2010 when they had the best record in the NHL.  But they bowed out in a stunning first-round loss to the worst team in the playoffs – the Montreal Canadiens.

Certainly in 2011, when we thought this young team had learned their lesson, only to watch them put all their effort into beating the New York Rangers in the first round, and then get swept by Tampa Bay in the second.

To prevent that from happening again, the Capitals made some significant moves in the offseason. They got bigger, tougher, more experienced players. That should get them over the hump, right?

Maybe.

You see,  the core of this team remains the same, and as they go, so go the Caps. They have to hope their Young Guns have matured. Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom, Alexander Semin, Mike Green and Brooks Laich are still the heart of this team.

They’ve been with the Caps since 2007-2008, the start of their recent successful run. However, after improving steadily for three straight seasons, all five posted numbers last year that they’d like to forget.

Where did the NHL’s top offense go? More importantly, how do they get it back?

Bruce Boudreau’s first three seasons behind the bench provided us with the NHL’s most exciting team. Last year, though, they inexplicably lost their mojo. They'd better find it if they want to raise Lord Stanley’s Cup, because while the Capitals needed to improve their defense -- and they have -- lighting the lamp is who they are, who we want them to be and how they are most successful.

Yes, defense wins championships, and the Caps seem to have enough of that now, along with the addition of veteran goalie Tomas Vokoun. So how about kicking up the tempo of the offense? It’s a lack of goalscoring the past two playoffs that hurt them, not their defense.

The Caps have been the top team in the East the last two regular seasons. All the ingredients are there for a repeat of that performance.

And, if the Young Guns are on target, they should be able to put together a long run in the playoffs.

Now is the time they grow up and stop teasing us with what they could be -- show us how great you are.

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(Copyright 2011 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)