Continued from page 1

They’ve played 37 series, including the one this year. They’ve won 13. They’ve only made it past the second round twice in all their playoff appearances.

Only twice have they fallen behind 3-1 and won a series. They’ve kicked away 3-1 leads four times, including twice to the Penguins. The last time they rallied from 3-1 down was in 2009, when they won three straight to beat the Rangers. But they didn’t seize the new life like Boston has done this year.

After that rally against the Rangers came another series against the Penguins, where the Caps won the first two and lost four of the next five, including a thumping at home in Game 7.

Hmmm, that sounds familiar.

So what will it take for the Caps to get over this playoff malaise and be a team that plays into June with any kind of regularity? This isn’t a new issue. It’s spanned regimes of coaches, players, general managers.

Can something like this be fixed?

Experience clearly matters. Hockey’s Final Four this year is the four most recent Cup winners — Los Angeles, Boston, Chicago and Pittsburgh.

The Caps have one player, Troy Brouwer, who has won a Cup. He was with Chicago in 2010.

But will trading for or signing players who have won Cups recently help? If it was that simple, all free agents on Cup-winning teams would feel like they’d been given their own Brinks truck.

“You always talk about wanting guys that have that experience, that playoff experience, and that’s usually a hot commodity,” Caps defenseman Karl Alzner told reporters on the team’s breakdown day. “If that’s what we had on the team, I think that would probably help.”

There is no easy answer, obviously. Otherwise the Caps would have stumbled onto it by now. They’ve been real good for a real long time now. Fans in other cities have a lot more reasons to complain. Edmonton has the longest nonplayoff streak in the league at seven seasons. The Phoenix Coyotes/Winnipeg Jets went 23 seasons between victories in a playoff series.

So it could be a lot worse.

But being good-but-not-good-enough grows almost as frustrating after awhile. Particularly as you watch the teams still playing go about their business. They’re not necessarily better than the Caps. They’re clearly tougher.