ARLINGTON, V.A. — At a long Washington Capitals practice on Monday, the Capitals saw quite a few positives.
Most notably, Nicklas Backstrom took part in line rushes on Monday and continues to make strides, but there’s still no confirmed date for his return.
Backstrom centered the second line with Conor Sheary and T.J. Oshie, with Brett Leason also cycling in. He also got work in on the top power-play unit. With those moves made, Connor McMichael moved down to the third line wing and worked with Lars Eller and Daniel Sprong.
Head coach Peter Laviolette and Backstrom himself didn’t rule out the possibility that No. 19 could play on Wednesday in Chicago, but they also didn’t confirm whether or not he would play.
“We purposefully put him on a line and on the power play to start taking reps and preparing him and still going to continue to go day-by-day but the fact that we saw him take the workload that he did today was a great sign,” Laviolette said, adding, “He’s certainly working toward a date.”
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Backstrom had missed the start of training camp and went on the long-term injured reserve while rehabilitating a hip injury. He started off by skating on his own and working with Mark Nemish before finally getting back into practice with the team before Thanksgiving. Backstrom was cleared for contact on Dec. 3, and said he continues to improve.
“The last couple of weeks… skating has been coming back and just repetition every day has been great,” Backstrom said. “It’s been a long journey but fun to skate with the guys again.”
“I’m getting some repetition and it’s feeling better,” the Swede added. “So I mean, it’s just getting some repetition with the guys, I think and getting into those system, how we play. just got to refresh my memory.”
It will be a welcome return for the Capitals, who need to boost their power play and have seen multiple injuries and COVID-19 struggles this season.
Speaking of injuries, Tom Wilson missed Monday’s skate. He is day-to-day with an upper-body injury he suffered after sliding hard into Tristan Jarry in Friday’s 4-2 loss to the Penguins.
Meanwhile, Nic Dowd and Trevor van Riemsdyk also skated, but both remain on COVID-19 protocol. Garnet Hathaway is also still on protocol and did not skate.