Nicklas Backstrom is having yet another Backstrom-like season so far in 2016-2017. He’s leading the Capitals in points, and would be leading the NHL in points if not for the Capitals “big picture” plan. All of this going mostly unnoticed by those outside of Caps Nation.
BIG PICTURE FIRST
First and foremost, the reduction in playing time for key players such as Ovechkin and Backstrom is a “big picture” strategy, aimed at having a fresher team come playoff time. The Caps still have the best record in the NHL, so who could argue this strategy. Having said that, we wanted to take a look at where Backstrom would be, if he was playing “normal” minutes each game. Bottom line, he would be leading the NHL in points.
A DEEPER DIVE
Backstrom is currently 8th in the points race, but is averaging significantly less time on ice (TOI) per game than each player above him in the chase for the Art Ross. Backstrom is nearly a full three minutes less than Connor McDavid, which equates to a 15% reduction in playing time per game. 15% of a season is more than 12 games. If you were to add 15% to Backstrom’s totals, he would have 77 points this season, which would be tops in the NHL.
Backstrom would be the first to tell you it just doesn’t matter, and post season is all that matters. But for fans of Backstrom, this is another achievement for Backstrom that will likely go unnoticed- a Backstrom-like stat if you will.
It’s true, Caps fans are tiring of the personal trophies, and only want “the” trophy at this point. However, the personal accolades are not stacked high and wide for Backstrom. It’s not like it has to be one or the other.
By Jon Sorensen