After missing the last 37 games due to concussion like symptoms, Washington Capitals top-line center Nicklas Backstrom has been cleared to fully participate in team practices. This is a huge step in the right direction for Backstrom who has been out with the injury since January 3.
Backstrom was out on the ice at KCI with about 12 other teammates this morning to take part in an optional practice. This marks the first time that Backstrom has practiced with his teammates since January 6, prior to the Capitals game against the San Jose Sharks.
Backstrom has been symptom free since he began skating on March 13. The 24-year-old Swede has been on the ice 10 of the past 11 days, with the one day being a scheduled off day.
Now that the center has been cleared for full practice, he must return to game form without suffering any setbacks. After that he must also undergo neuropsychological tests according to the Capitals’ head athletic trainer Greg Smith.
Once Backstrom passes those tests, the results will be compared to his baseline test he took in training camp, he will have to be cleared by team physicians prior to getting back into a game.
Backstrom will be returning sitting at fourth on the Capitals with 42 points, despite his lengthy absence. He has recorded 13 goals and 29 assists on the year so far. If he can return to game form prior to the end of the regular season, expect to see the potent first line of him, Alex Ovechkin, and Alexander Semin return and lead the Capitals into the postseason.
If Backstrom doesn’t return in time to end the regular season, I don’t see the Capitals making the postseason even with Ovechkin hitting the productive stride all Capitals fans have been waiting for all season.