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Backstrom Back Sooner Rather Than Later? Capitals Getting Optimistic



Although injuries have been piling up for the Washington Capitals, the team got some positive news on the Nicklas Backstrom front.

Backstrom made the difficult decision to undergo hip resurfacing surgery after years of chronic pain and his hip grinding down again at the end of the 2021-22 season. The surgery has ended the careers of some players, including Ryan Kesler, but Backstrom is optimistic he will be back in action at some point. He also said before the season that for the first time in years, he’s pain-free.

“I think I tried everything else to make it better,” he explained. “But at the same time, this kind of like, the last resort: unproven technology for sports. I just think that’s the biggest thing, but I had to do it because I had no other choice. It’s either that, or I’ll skate on one leg again.

“It was a life-changer for me in daily life,” Backstrom added later. “Just to pick up socks, tie my shoes, stuff like that, and play with my kids. I couldn’t really do that, either. It helped me a lot functionally, and I’m happy about that. That part, I’m feeling great. Now it’s just the next step to get me back to the ice.”

READ MORE ON WHN: Washington Capitals Share Updates On Fehervary, Kuemper, Orlov

The 35-year-old started off skating on his own and recently joined the team for couple of morning skates in full gear and a non-contact jersey. General manager Brian MacLellan said on Saturday that he’s been making great strides forward and that there haven’t been any negatives with him returning to the ice.

“He’s progressing well,” MacLellan said. “There’s been no setbacks, so it’s positive. I don’t know where it ends up, but everything has been positive so far.”

When it comes to next steps, it looks like Backstrom could be back in contact drills sooner rather than later.

“I’m saying he’s doing really well, and his rehab’s going well,” MacLellan added. “I don’t know that it’s been tested. We would like to see him in a practice [with] contact. That’ll come in the next little bit, I hope.”

Getting Backstrom back would be huge for Washington, who is 10-12-3 and experiencing relentless adversity and struggles on offense. In addition to Backstrom, Tom Wilson (ACL surgery) has been out since the start of the season, though the team said they’ll know more about Wilson’s timeline in the next couple of weeks. Connor Brown (ACL surgery) is unlikely to suit up again this year,. That adds up to three top-6 players missing this season. Carl Hagelin (hip surgery) is also likely out for 2022-23, and Beck Malesntyn (hand surgery), Dmitry Orlov (lower-body), Martin Fehervary (upper-body) and Darcy Kuemper (upper-body) are all on the shelf as well.

Backstrom did not travel with the team on the current six-game road swing. The Capitals face the Oilers in game five of six on this trip. Here’s the preview for that game with lines and more.