Nicklas Backstrom Returns, Tom Wilson And T.J. Oshie Continue Skating In Full Contact Jerseys: Notes From The Capitals’ First Practice Of 2023

The Washington Capitals returned to work on Monday after a day-off on New Year’s Day. They next host the Buffalo Sabres on Tuesday night at Capital One Arena. Puck drop is set for 7PM ET. Here’s the latest from the first practice of 2023:

Nicklas Backstrom exited Covid protocol on Monday and returned to practice in a regular (full contact) Jersey. Tom Wilson (ACL) continued to skate in a full contact jersey as well. There were no formal line rushes at today’s practice.

Carl Hagelin continued skating in a non-contact jersey on Monday. T.J. Oshie also continued skating this morning in a regular (full contact) jersey.

Oshie practiced on the first unit of the Capitals’ power play, which further indicates he is nearing a return. Oshie was hurt on Dec. 17 against Toronto.

Tom Wilson wasn’t on either power play unit. That doesn’t mean he is not playing tomorrow vs Buffalo but typically if Wilson was on either unit, good sign that he would be in.


Today’s stat of the day revisits the Capitals differential between shots taken per game average and shots against per game average (SF/GM-avg – SA/GM-avg). [Click to enalrge]

As we’ve noted in earlier posts, the Capitals began the season with a very poor (negative) shot differential, getting outshot in nearly every game. Since November 1, the team has been rebounding and has risen above the even (0.0) plateau for the first time on December 9.

However, things have leveled off over the last five games. This could be due to the loss of T.J. Oshie and/or John Carlson, or could simply be due to the level of competition (Ottawa Senators game was very poor) and/or other game characteristics. We will watch this one closely over the next week or two.

[The statistics used in this post are courtesy of Natural Stat Trick and the NoVa Caps Advanced Analytics Model (NCAAM). If you’d like to learn more about the statistical terms used in this post, please check out our NHL Analytics Glossary]


Alexander Suzdalev notched his 21st goal of the season on Friday night, giving him points in 20 of the last 22 games played.

He also had a nice zone entry and dish for the overtime game winning goal.

Ryan Chesley and Team USA begin elimination stage of the 2023 World Junior Championship today when they face Germany today at 4PM.


The Capitals’ +19 goal differential currently ranks 10th in the NHL. On Dec. 1, the Capitals had a goal differential of -9, which ranked 21st.

And finally, the Boston Bruins and Pittsburgh Penguins are set to play in the 2023 Winter Classic at Fenway Park in Boston. The Bruins took the opportunity to arrive in style.

Happy New Years, Caps Nation!

By Jon Sorensen

About Jon Sorensen

Jon has been a Caps fan since day one, attending his first game at the Capital Centre in 1974. His interest in the Caps has grown over the decades and included time as a season ticket holder. He has been a journalist covering the team for 10+ years, primarily focusing on analysis, analytics and prospect development.
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9 Responses to Nicklas Backstrom Returns, Tom Wilson And T.J. Oshie Continue Skating In Full Contact Jerseys: Notes From The Capitals’ First Practice Of 2023

  1. hockeydruid says:

    I understand that players are getting healthy but I think that the team chemistry right now is such that they should not mess with it. Let guys be healthy scratches for a time or until someone else gets hurt.

  2. Frankie C says:

    No way you leave Oshie and Wilson on the bench.. as soon as they can play the better..

    If you’ve haven’t noticed, our opposition has been pushing us around with Wilson in line up..

    • Anonymous says:

      I don’t follow. Wilson hasn’t played all season.

      Messing with a winning formula is always dangerous

  3. dwgie26 says:

    These aren’t just varsity players. These elite level players and should be in the lineup when healthy. I suspect Wilson in particular could have played as soon as two weeks ago, so they are being extra conservative, but you just don’t keep a guy like that off the ice if he is ready (and maybe over ready at this point) as he has been skating for a good week or two in full contact. We all know what Oshie means when he is on the ice/bench/locker room. NAK and Snively can come out of the lineup immediately. The next man out is going to be interesting.

    • Anonymous says:

      NAK has been excellent, leads the entire team in xGF%

      • dwgie26 says:

        And he can sit for Wilson or Oshie who are high impact players in a lot of ways well beyond xGF%.

        But that is pretty baller for NAK. It is why i would keep him and let Snively try and pass waivers.

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