“I’m Not Going to Put Pressure On Myself”: Nicklas Backstrom Preaches Patience in Returning to Full Form As Return to Lineup Inches Closer

Screenshot: Washington Capitals

The Washington Capitals’ recent stretch of success has coincided with the continued progression of right wing Tom Wilson and center Nicklas Backstrom, who are recovering from respective ACL and hip surgeries during the offseason.

Backstrom, whose future was questioned by some due to the complex nature of the the surgery to repair a recurring hip problem that caused the 2006 first-round pick to play at less-than one-hundred percent, has inched closer and closer to a return to game action, along with Wilson.

“I’m feeling good, I’m feeling great”, Backstrom said after the team’s practice at MedStar Capitals Iceplex on Wednesday, “Fun being out there. We’ve been working hard the last couple weeks and I feel good.”

“Well first of all, it’s no fun sitting out”, said the Capitals’ franchise Assists leader of the long process of rehabilitating from the surgery, “Rehab and back-skating sucks, but it’s fun being out there practicing with the guys, you know it’s just different thing to play out there, so it’s been fun practicing with the team and hopefully, hopefully soon [referring to playing in a game].

Backstrom, who along with Wilson began skating in full contact practice jerseys just before Christmas, evaluated his recovery, and mentioned that while there have been a few hiccups along the way, no serious setbacks have occurred.

“I think we’ve passed many things that I had to pass, and right now it’s all about repitition I think and skating and getting conditioning I think. Especially after COVID there too, you gotta get back in. I’m sure that’s another [taking contact] area you can really practice that’s just gonna happen. But I’ve gotten some bumps and no setbacks so that’s good.”

“You Want to Finish On Your Own Terms”: Nicklas Backstrom Says Finishing His Career the Way He Wanted Was A Factor in Offseason Hip Surgery

The 35-year old may be close to game action, however he is in no rush to see if he will be able to return to a pre-injury form.

“I’m not going to put pressure on myself. All I can say is I feel great, and like I said earlier too, the biggest thing for me is I have no pain, that I’m able to skate and move the way I want to.”

“I knew that day that I could return when I talked to you guys (the press)”, Backstrom said of his mindset at the end of last season, “It was just uncertain, it was just, I want to say it was more about when and how quickly I could recover.”

The Capitals’ turnaround from a slow start has brought with it some questions about how Head Coach Peter Laviolette will construct his lineup to include both Backstrom and Wilson upon their return. However Backstrom says that the team’s performance could potentially aid his return to game action.

“I think..one side to look at it is maybe when the team is playing this good maybe that’s gonna benefit me, they’re gonna help me out a little bit, first couple games here. But at the same time I’m not gonna come in and change things up I’m just going to try to be part of the team and win hockey games.”

Having Wilson, who tore his ACL during the team’s first-round exit in the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs, recovering alongside him for the last several months has been helpful.

“I mean that helped a lot. I think we knew from the start we were going to be around the same time but I think having him around and working out together, skating together, has been great actually. He’s motivated to get back out there too, so I think both of us has benefited from this.”

To see Backstrom’s full presser, see below:

By Michael Fleetwood

About Michael Fleetwood

Michael Fleetwood was born into a family of diehard Capitals fans and has been watching games as long as he can remember. He was born the year the Capitals went to their first Stanley Cup Final, and is a diehard Caps fan, the owner of the very FIRST Joe Beninati jersey and since then, has met Joe himself. Michael joined the NoVa Caps team in 2015, and is most proud of the growth of the NoVa Caps community in that time. An avid photographer, Michael resides in VA.
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2 Responses to “I’m Not Going to Put Pressure On Myself”: Nicklas Backstrom Preaches Patience in Returning to Full Form As Return to Lineup Inches Closer

  1. novafyre says:

    Would the Caps ever consider a conditioning stint in Hershey for either one of them? While there, there would be no roster pressure. What would it mean for the salary cap? Would it provide any relief there?

    • hockeydruid says:

      that sounds like a good idea however one of the reasons that Tom was brought up to begin with was that management was afraid he would get beaten by older players. This time around I think that both Tom and Backy would have targets on their uniforms and both older players would be making hits say “Welcome” and younger players would be making hits to say “See what I can do”. Not a good situation for either player.

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