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.”
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