Backstrom has not played since Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Semi-finals, but it looks like the Swedish-born centre could be back in the Washington Capitals lineup for Game 4.
Backstrom, who is third on the Capitals in assists (10) and fourth in points (13) in the postseason, skated again this morning and left the ice before the presumed scratches. Additionally, Backstrom rotated in on the third line during line rushes and practiced on the top power-play unit—both signs that he will be back in tonight.
Despite a few signs pointing towards Backstrom returning, head coach Barry Trotz was not ready to commit. Trotz said that Backstrom is not yet medically cleared and labeled him as a game-time decision.
Caps say Nicklas Backstrom is not medically cleared yet, which is why the team is not letting him chat with the media yet. But that doesn’t mean he won’t be cleared by game time.
— Isabelle Khurshudyan (@ikhurshudyan) May 17, 2018
Backstom has been skating before every game to keep his legs fresh, but today’s participation is an encouraging sign for Capitals fans. Washington will look to defend home-ice after dropping Game 3. If they are able to do so successfully, they will go back to Tampa Bay with a commanding 3-1 series lead.
Guys, they're sending a message. It's obvious… pic.twitter.com/bLTS5VHoGK
— Japers' Rink (@JapersRink) May 17, 2018
Backstrom has picked up eight of his 10 assists with the man-advantage and the Capitals’ power-play hasn’t been the same without him. Backstrom orchestrates everything on the power-play and the Capitals converted at 31.7 percent (13-for-41) when he was healthy. They are 3-for-11 (27.3%) without him.
Game 4 gets underway at 8:00pm ET, so monitor Backstrom’s status when they hit the ice for warmups at 7:30pm ET.