Nicklas Backstrom Returns to Face Bourque, Canadiens

Updated: March 31, 2012 at 10:58 am by Alexander Monaghan

Backstrom is officially back as Stephen Whyno of The Washington Times confirms via Twitter. Coincidentally, his first game since January 3rd will come against the man who hit him– Rene Bourque.

Expect Backstrom to play on the top line and probably the top power play unit. To see the projected line combinations, click here.

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3/28/12: Caps center Nick Backstrom is really rounding a corner on his head injury.

The pivot was cleared for contact last week, passed baseline tests yesterday and is now travelling with the team to Boston. Head coach Dale Hunter was quick to throw a dagger into returning against the Bruins but Backstrom skating without hesitation and practicing with the team could not be a better indication. Now all he needs to do is get his body back into game shape which is harder than you think when you consider the Caps play more than they practice at this point in the season. Nevertheless, his return seems imminent so expect him back before the end of the regular season.

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3/24/12: Fantastic news for Backstrom owners, Capitals owners, and the entire organization. According to Mike Vogel of WashingtonCapitals.com, via Twitter, Backstrom has been cleared for contact and will begin practicing with the team. If Sidney Crosby’s recent return is any indication, Backstrom probably returns to the lineup within the a week or so. While tomorrow against the Minnesota Wild may be too ambitious, the Caps play on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday next week.

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3/15/12: It has been a while since we’ve had any good news on Washington Capitals center Nicklas Backstrom. But fear not, fantasy hockey owners, as the All-Star snub took to the ice today, for the second day in a row according to Mike Vogel of WashingtonCapitals.com, via Twitter. As Brian McNally of The Washington Examiner would point out, also via Twitter, this skate is the first time Backstrom has been one the ice for consecutive days since the beginning of January. Clearly, this participation is a good sign.

However, we still do not know how long Backstrom will remain out. He gingerly skated with the scratches this morning but probably is not cleared for contact. He will need at least a week of contact to get back in game shape, probably more. Now we play the waiting game…

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1/30/12: Our last report sounded relatively optimistic as Backstrom was taking the “next step” towards his recovery. However, it appears that there was a setback as Capitals head coach Dale Hunter, when questioned, told Brian McNally of The Washington Examiner that Backstrom did not skate during the break.

We understand that the Caps would be foolish to rush Backstrom back into the lineup but his absence has made the once-dominant offense look quite mortal. At this point he still carries the ‘out indefinitely’ label.

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1/23/12: Nicklas Backstrom stepped onto the ice for the first time since early January according to Brian McNally of The Washington Examiner, via Twitter. The star center did not take part in practice or do anything close to his capabilities but seeing him skate is a great sign. Nevertheless, don’t expect him to return before the All-Star Game or in this calendar month for that matter.

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1/9/12: Backstrom did not practice this morning, instead he returned to Washington D.C. according to Katie Carrera of The Washington Post, via Twitter. Safe to rule him out of tonight’s tilt.

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1/7/12: Nicklas Backstrom did not take part in today’s morning skate indicating he will not play tonight. However, Brooks Laich told Stephen Whyno of The Washington Times that he expects Backstrom to play. Minutes later, Whyno would report via Twitter that coach Dale Hunter officially ruled Backstrom out.

Since tonight’s game is the latest tilt on the evening we would have recommended sitting Backstrom if he was a game-time decision. We can now say with confidence that he should remain on your fantasy hockey bench.

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1/7/12: Sounds like Nicklas Backstrom and the Washington Capitals dodged a bullet. The team’s leading scorer announced this morning he is indeed feeling better and that his recovery is definitely faster than expected.

When questioned, Backstrom was pretty straightforward on how he felt and his timetable in jumping back into the lineup. From Capitals Watch:

I’m not the coach who’s picking the team. But I’m available,” Backstrom said. “I’m feeling good now, so hopefully the team will pick me.”

Backstrom said he felt the hit to his “whole head” but wasn’t holding back at practice, another good sign.

“I feel fine,” the 24-year-old center said. “You’ve got to push yourself to know where exactly you are.”

But with NHL protocol requiring certain things and the Caps understanding his value, they’re going through the necessary process.

“To be on the safe side, we’re doing all the tests,” Backstrom said. “We’ve just got to make sure it’s a hundred percent.”

While not out of the woods, this update is certainly a good sign. Expect a few more tests over the upcoming days and some further updates on his participating in practice.

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UPDATE 1/4/12: This morning, Nicklas Backstrom was unavailable to local media, providing no update on his status. His brother Kristoffer Bäckström, via Twitter, was kind enough to leak Backstrom’s status, explaining that he has a small concussion. Backstrom is expected to undergo more tests tomorrow.

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With just under 10 minutes remaining in the Washington Capitals’ 3-1 victory, Nicklas Backstrom was elbowed in the head by Calgary Flames forward Rene Bourque. Backstrom remained in the game for one more shift (on the power play) before finishing the game with 20:31 of ice time.

After the game, Stephen Whyno of The Washington Times reported that not only was the Swedish playmaker under evaluation by team doctors but that he also would not be available to the media. Coach Dale Hunter would further comment that the injury is merely precautionary. As per usual, you can take Hunter’s injury report with a grain of salt –Hunter refused to tell the media that Alexander Semin was injured yesterday, calling it a maintenance day.

Sounds like the Caps will play it safe with their top-line center for fear of losing him to a long-term concussion. Nevertheless, the damage has been done so his treatment is very well out of their hands. Backstrom currently leads the team in scoring with 42 points in 38 games.

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