ARLINGTON, V.A. — An hour before the Washington Capitals took the ice for practice, Nicklas Backstrom and Tom Wilson pulled on track suits and laced up the skates, getting out for a skate and getting an opportunity to feel the puck.
It was the first time since both have skated — they were on skates but didn’t move much for media day — this season as they continue their rehabilitation from major surgeries. However, it’s only a first step, and there’s still ways to go. Both are not scheduled to skate tomorrow and are not cleared to resume skating regularly, though they’ll likely skate again for a couple of minutes in a few days. It’s all part of the rehab, and they still face a long road back.
“That’s an update, right?” head coach Peter Laviolette said of them being back on the ice. “I was excited to see them out there. They’re at the beginning steps of getting back on the ice. You won’t see them in gear tomorrow. They’re at the very beginning, but it was great to see them out there. I’m sure they were thrilled to get out there and touch the ice and tough their edges and move a puck around. It’s awesome.”
On the ice this morning ahead of Capitals practice: Nicklas Backstrom and Tom Wilson. pic.twitter.com/4jWR2Vloya
— Matt Weyrich (@ByMattWeyrich) October 26, 2022
Backstrom and Wilson have been around the facility, continuing off-ice workouts and focusing on their respective recoveries. There is currently no timetable for Backstrom, who made the difficult decision to undergo hip resurfacing surgery this summer. It is a surgery that not many NHLers have come back from, but Backstrom is “pain free” for the first time in years and optimistic he will play for the Capitals again.
“I think I tried everything else to make it better,” Backstrom said of his decision to get surgery. “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.
READ MORE ON WHN: Nicklas Backstrom Opens Up About Surgery, Optimistic About Washington Capitals Return
“Something had to change. I had this in the back of my head that this was an option, so here we are.”
Wilson, meanwhile, is “ahead of schedule” as he recovers from ACL surgery he had in May. He suffered the injury in Game 1 of the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs against the Florida Panthers, just 1:39 minutes into the game. He had been trying to return in any way possible and was skating at one point, but there was no real possibility that he would return last season after that ACL tear.
Meanwhile, at practice, the Capitals rolled with the same lines as Monday’s tilt against the New Jersey Devils. Here are the combinations:
Alex Ovechkin-Dylan Strome-Conor Sheary
Marcus Johansson-Evgeny Kuznetsov-T.J. Oshie
Aliaksei Protas-Lars Eller-Anthony Mantha
Beck Malenstyn-Nic Dowd-Garnet Hathaway
Connor McMichael/Joe Snively
Dmitry Orlov-John Carlson
Martin Fehervary-Nick Jensen
Erik Gustafsson-Trevor van Riemsdyk
Connor McMichael continues to sit, along with Joe Snively and Matt Irwin. Beck Malenstyn looked solid on the fourth line on Monday, and considering that’s the only vacancy right now, he will remain in that spot after a great assist and seamless transition to that 4LW role. There are currently no plans to send McMichael or anyone else to the Hershey Bears for more playing time.
“There haven’t been any decisions, and there hasn’t been any conversations about that right now… He’s just got to keep working hard and wait for his chance,” Laviolette added of No. 24.
Washington will kick off a three-game road swing on Thursday against the Dallas Stars.