ARLINGTON, V.A. — It looks like Washington Capitals center Nicklas Backstrom is making big strides toward his return, and finally got back in the swing of line rushes on Monday.
At practice, he took line rushes on the second line, centering Conor Sheary, T.J. Oshie and Brett Leason. It’s a major step forward for No. 19, who had previously been skating on his own and practicing but not taking part in rushes.
During ESPN’s broadcast of Capitals-Penguins on Friday, Emily Kaplan reported that Washington wanted to get Backstrom back in the lineup before the holiday break. Backstrom had been cleared for contact on Dec. 3.
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The Swedish center led Washington last season with 53 points in 55 games. He missed the start of training camp as he continued to rehabilitate a hip injury, and has remained on the long-term injured reserve.
It will be a major boost to see him return to the lineup. The Capitals’ power play needs a boost, and getting a playmaker back like Backstrom should help when it comes to coming up with new plays. Plus, with Tom Wilson day-to-day and not skating on Monday, they’ll need to continue to maintain consistent scoring on the top-6.
“He’s one of our best players when he’s healthy, so I think he’s going to make our team better,” Lars Eller said of Backstrom. “We’re going to be happy to have him back. We’re going to be a better team with him, so we look forward to seeing him on the ice again.”
With Backstrom returning to pivot, Connor McMichael moved to the third-line wing, skating with Eller and Daniel Sprong.