No. 68: Washington Capitals

Last year's rank: 68
Title track: 77
Ownership: 46
Coaching: (T) 50
Players: 77
Fan relations: 52
Affordability: 101
Stadium experience: 63
Bang for the buck: 85

It's been a rough stretch for the Caps, who ranked a lofty 27th overall in 2011. With players such as Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom and Mike Green on the roster, Washington's locker room was ranked 24th in the majors. But although the roster remained the same, the production did not: In 2011-12, Ovechkin's point total reached an all-time low, Green went from the highest-scoring defenseman to one of the lowest, and, as fans watched those stars' stats falling, the wins stopped coming, too. When our surveys were midseason of 2012-13, fans put the blame on the players' shoulders, naming the Caps' roster seventh worst in the league when it comes to the players giving their best efforts.

But last season's sluggish start to the year (2-8-1 in the first 11 games) gave way to the Caps catching fire in the second half, playing to a 123-point pace. Ovechkin had a huge rebound, winning his third Hart Trophy, and Backstrom and Green -- again best in goals from a defenseman -- both played more like their old selves. Perhaps they're enjoying new coach Adam Oates' skillful leadership as much as the fans, who awarded a big coaching category jump -- up 47 spots -- after enduring sagging performances under Bruce Boudreau. If the Caps can keep that second-half pace next season, and with a full season of Oates, the team could be right in line for a return to the playoffs -- and perhaps its first Stanley Cup.