Health-Wise, Backstrom Feels Good. Team-Wise, He Expects More From Self & Capitals
Washington Capitals forward Nicklas Backstrom said his hip’s feeling good and he’s getting more comfortable with each game, he also wants to see more from himself and the team in order to get back to winning.
ARLINGTON, V.A. — Sitting in his stall at MedStar Capitals Iceplex, Washington Capitals forward Nicklas Backstrom takes a moment to reflect on his return to play. While the hip's feeling good and he's getting more comfortable with each game that goes on, he's not impressed with the results.
Since his return eight games ago, the Capitals have gone 3-5-0, and the power play is 1-for-19 since then. In the last nine games overall, the team is 1-for-22. There have been struggles throughout the lineup as well as head coach Peter Laviolette looks for the perfect combinations amid some more injury trouble, and Backstrom sees room for improvement at both ends of the ice and especailly on offense.
"It's getting better and more comfortable out there. Since I've been back we haven't been winning enough," he said bluntly. "So we gotta get back to winning and I've got to start producing."
Through eight games, Backstrom has three assists. His vision and picture-perfect passing are still there, but as he mentioned, there's an adjustment period that comes with getting ready. Still, his teammates are happy to see him back, especially given his hockey IQ and leadership.
"He's got one of the best minds in the game, so when his body allows him to do what his mind is telling him, it's a pretty scary recipe for success," Tom Wilson said.
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Backstrom was fitting in well on the BMW line with Sonny Milano and Wilson, but Wilson is now dealing with a day-to-day after suffering a lower-body injury and his status is questionable. For No. 19, working through the injuries is nothing new for the team, but he stressed the need for the "next man up" mentality to show once again.
"Yeah I mean obviously it's a little bit different, it's gotta be different for a lot of players. A lot of moving parts around and I just think we have to adjust to that and that's what it's gonna be like," Backstrom added. "Guys are getting injured and guys have to play a different role. But we just gotta adjust to that and keep playing because that's our job."
When it comes to getting back on track, Backstrom said a lot of it has to do with not falling into bad habits, playing simple and generating — and sustaining — pressure on the forecheck. If the Capitals do that, the Swede thinks things will start to look up for himself and the hockey club as they look to get back up the standings and remain in the playoff picture.
"Just need to simplify a little bit, especially in our D-zone. Play a little bit quicker and make sure we don't get stuck in our zone," Backstrom said. "I think we can do that, I mean hopefully we'll create some more offense and we'll capitalize. So that's the key."