Nicklas Backstrom Not To Play Next Game

By Matt Geiser

It looks as if the long awaited return of Washington Capitals star center will be delayed a few more days.

Nicklas Backstrom, who has been sidelined since January 3 with concussion like symptoms , will join the team on their trip to Boston to face the Bruins, but both he and coach Dale Hunter have confirmed that he will not take part in the game Thursday night.

Backstrom says that he is getting closer and closer to game form after taking part in a strenuous optional practice at the KCI this morning.

The Capitals fell to ninth place in the Eastern Conference standings last night after suffering a 5-1 beating at the hands of the Buffalo Sabres, and are now two points behind the Sabres with each team having five games left to play.

With Thursday night’s game out of thought for the return of the 24-year-old center, Backstrom appears to have his sights set on Saturday night’s home game against the Montreal Canadiens as his return. Backstrom hasn’t played since former Calgary Flames’ Rene Bourque elbowed him in the head. The funny thing is, Bourque is expected to be in the Canadiens lineup Saturday night.

Hunter commented on the return of his center saying that the decision will be made by Backstrom, the head trainer Greg Smith, and the coaching staff.

Without being able to skate for over two months, Backstrom commented with his conditioning is not where he would like it to be quite yet. He specified that his lungs still need to get back into form, but it will be take as a day-to-day thing.

Hunter made it clear that he wanted Backstrom on the trip so that he could participate in practice with the team for tomorrow mornings skate. He wants Bacsktrom to know what is expected of his play when he steps back on the ice in a game environment.

The Capitals have gone 17-16-6 in Backstrom’s absence, and were 21-15-2 prior to his injury. He led the team in points in the 38 games he played early in the season, and is now fourth, only behind Alex Ovechkin, Alexander Semin, and Dennis Wideman.

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