Been there, done that.
Failure to meet expectations is an annual rite of spring for the Caps.
Fans may have been deluded into the notion that this team, led by Alex Ovechkin, may have overachieved by going as far as it did this year as a seventh seed -- as if the franchise had never played a Game?7 in the Eastern Conference semifinals before.
They have -- and not very long ago. They were crushed by the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game 7 at Verizon Center in 2009.
So the Caps have made it back to where they were three years ago.
Any autopsy of the season now will include the hello and goodbye of coach Dale Hunter, who came, transformed and left all within a season, calling it quits Monday. Now the Caps will be looking for their sixth coach since owner Ted Leonsis bought the team.
This warrants an examination of the Caps under Leonsis.
There is a perception that the Caps were irrelevant before Leonsis bought the team in 1999. That perception exists in part because of the "Rock the Red" campaign, the downtown Verizon Center success and the presence of a superstar like Ovechkin.
But the fact is that the Caps -- as frustrating as they were -- had more success under Abe Pollin than they have had under Leonsis, culminating with the 1997-98 Stanley Cup Finals team.
Pollin's Caps, who played all but two seasons at the old Capital Centre in Landover, made the playoffs 14 consecutive seasons from 1982-83 to 1995-96. They missed the playoffs the next season but followed that up with the Eastern Conference title in 1998 -- their second trip to the conference finals -- and Stanley Cup Finals appearance against the Detroit Red Wings.
Core Caps fans, of course, are aware of this, but this history lesson is for those under the illusion that the Caps were this pathetic, losing franchise that Leonsis saved.
Under Leonsis' ownership, the Caps have missed the playoffs four times in 12 seasons and have never made it to the conference finals.
And so here the Caps are, out of the playoffs after two rounds for the third time in four years. In the other season, the Presidents' Trophy-winning Caps were bounced in the first round by eighth-seeded Montreal.
And so the annual rite of spring continues.