Capitals center Nicklas Backstrom has always been one of the NHL’s best players, and has yet again, gone inexcusably unnoticed by the NHL media and fan bases outside the Nation’s Capital. The highly-productive Swede is having one of his best seasons of his career, and if the Capitals offense wants to continue their dominance in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, they’ll need Backstrom to be on his game.
This season has seen Backstrom emerge as one of the league leaders in scoring. Through 72 games played, Backstrom has scored 22 goals and added 56 assists for 78 points, putting him on pace for a career second-best 25 goals, 64 assists, and 89 points (his career-highs came in 2009-10, when he scored 33 goals, 68 assists, and 101 points). He is currently fifth in league scoring, four behind leader Connor McDavid of the Edmonton Oilers.
In the Capitals’ 12 games in the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs, Backstrom had two goals and nine assists for 11 points. While that is good for most players, Backstrom is certainly capable of more. Last season, the Capitals lacked scoring depth on all four forward lines, meaning Backstrom and the Caps’ other top forwards had to carry much of the load. Which is why Backstrom must continue to produce as he has during this regular season.
Through his 72 games played, Backstrom has averaged a career-high 1.08 points per game, and 7.2 offensive point shares (the number of points contributed by a player due to his offense). In his playoff career, Backstrom has averaged just 0.74 points per game. If the Caps are to advance to the Stanley Cup Final, they’ll need not only Backstrom, but the entire team to step up offensively.
Backstrom has proven time and time again that he is one of the most under appreciated players in the league. If he can continue his dominance come the playoffs, he maybe, just maybe, will get the recognition that he rightfully deserves.
By Michael Fleetwood