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But this wasn’t the conclusion the Caps wanted.

“We certainly had more aspirations than what the season turned out,” Laich said. “There’s no solace in any of that.”

Especially given the potential changes that could come, from Hunter on down. Alexander Semin, Dennis Wideman, Mike Knuble, Jeff Halpern and Vokoun are unrestricted free agents, so the makeup of this group that bought into its new coach’s system could be totally different. Hunter’s status is unclear, too.

And the Capitals didn’t accomplish enough in Alzner’s eyes to build off this year and this run.

“There’s no positives that are going to carry over to next season, I don’t think,” the defenseman said. “If we would have gone all the way to the finals, maybe take some positives, but it’s just not good enough.”

It’s about winning the Cup, and there’s a belief in the Caps’ room that they’re getting closer.

“Coming into the playoffs, you could really see the team’s true colors, how they wanted to win, how guys wanted to do what needed to be done to win in the playoffs: blocking shots, playing maybe a defensive style when they’re not used to it,” Brouwer said.

Carry-over or not, the Caps have to start over again, but with the knowledge that this recipe works.

“It’s the right way to play. To win, that’s the way you have to play it,” Hunter said. “Next year, you start off, and that’s your goal, to win.”