LAST SEASON: 45-26-11, 101 points. Second in Metropolitan Division. Lost to New York Rangers in Eastern Conference semifinals.
COACH: Barry Trotz (second season, 17th NHL season).
PLAYER TO WATCH: Alex Ovechkin. When it comes to the Capitals, it's always about the three-time NHL MVP and man of many nicknames - ''Alexander the Great,'' ''The Great 8,'' ''Ovi.'' He just turned 30, and while he jokes about how he isn't keeping count, at some point there will arrive a time when his aggressive style of hit-and-be-hit play will take a toll. Still, Ovechkin scored 53 goals last season, his sixth season getting to the half-century mark.
OUTLOOK: Not much new here: For a half-dozen years or so, the Capitals have entered the season with high expectations, often lived up to them during the regular season, then flopped in the playoffs. Ovechkin has said it's time to stop talking about potential and start doing something when the games count the most. He's never been past the second round of the playoffs and is 3-6 in Game 7s, so not until spring will everything be evaluated.