Consider Capitals fans. Presented with an N.H.L. expansion franchise in 1974, they looked forward to building a successful team and perhaps someday winning a championship. It hasn’t worked out that way.
Oh, the Washington Capitals have had some good teams over the years. There have been 11 division titles and 10 100-point seasons. In recent years, they have been even better: Three times in the last decade the team has had the best record in hockey, and Alex Ovechkin has won three Most Valuable Player Awards in that time.
But somehow it always goes sour in the playoffs. The Capitals have made just one Stanley Cup final in all their 44 years of existence. (They were swept by the Red Wings in 1998.) Worse, they have made a conference final only one other time. (They were swept by the Bruins in 1990.)
That leaves a lot of early exits for a lot of good teams: 14 in the first round and 11 in the second round.