Updated Oct. 4
It wasn't really intended to be a threat, although it might be considered fair warning from the general manager of the Washington Capitals.
"We've got what seems like a group of angry veterans who have come back and have something to prove," George McPhee said as his team prepared to launch a new quest for the Stanley Cup it was denied last season.
And they have quite a bit to prove -- like they really are as good as they think. The Capitals, with their high-powered offense led by Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom, often looked unstoppable last season when they finished first overall. But Washington couldn't close the deal after leading heavy underdog Montreal 3-1 in a first-round playoff series, and since has lived with the stigma.
It hasn't helped that playoff collapses have become the norm the past few seasons for Washington, with seventh-game losses at home in 2008 and 2009 ahead of last spring's disaster. But this group gets another shot because the organization felt the collapse was less a result of the Capitals' play and more a result of being beaten by a red-hot goalie.
"We couldn't get to [Jaroslav] Halak," McPhee said. "Lots of people were calling for changes after that, and if they had played poorly, then maybe we would have done something else. But we wanted to give these guys another chance. It was a really good team."
And it still is. Good enough to head into the season ranked No. 1 in our power rankings.