So much changed for the Washington Capitals in one month, but then so much remained the same.
The Capitals began the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs as a No. 7 seed facing the defending champs Apr. 12 in Boston. After a month of white-knuckle hockey, the Capitals had dispensed the Bruins and pushed the top-seeded New York Rangers to a Game 7. A win would have been a breakthrough for a franchise that hasn't reached the conference finals since 1998, and for a core group of players that has experienced only playoff failure.
It didn't happen.
For the fourth time in five years, the Capitals lost a Game 7. This was the first away from Verizon Center, and while Washington performed better than a typical No. 7 seed can expect to, it still wasn't enough.
Here are five reasons why the Capitals were left to ponder their future yet again Saturday night after a 2-1 loss to the Rangers instead of plotting strategies to defeat the New Jersey Devils in the Eastern Conference Finals: