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Backstrom could miss Capitals game opener



ARLINGTON, Virginia – Nicklas Backstrom said his left hip injury is improving, but the center has not resumed skating and could miss the Washington Capitals’ regular season opener against the New York Rangers on October 13.

“We don’t know that yet, but I haven’t been on the ice yet, so we’ll see,” Backstrom said on Saturday. “Week to week we’re going to go through this so I don’t know. I mean obviously I want to be there with the guys but at the same time I want to feel good again and be the best I can when I start. “

The 33-year-old, who has suffered the injury since last season and missed a game because of it, has only been on the ice “a little” since the end of last season.

On Saturday, he trained off the ice at MedStar Capitals Iceplex, but re-educated his hip at an unspecified location away from the Capitals.

“It’s just getting better and better,” Backstrom said. “I think we’re not rushing here. We’re looking at him long term not short term, making sure he’s ready before you start skating.”

Coach Peter Laviolette hasn’t said Backstrom won’t be ready for the start of the regular season, but he did acknowledge that time is running out.

“For now, it’s still the same for me,” Laviolette said. “When I talk to the coaches he’s not available. He was listed at 1-2 weeks. Nothing has changed since. As you know there is always a process to see guys (initially skate in a contactless jersey).… There is a process that goes with it and we are not there yet. “

Backstrom has confirmed that his injury was to the same hip he had arthroscopic surgery in May 2015, causing him to miss the first three games of the 2015-16 season.

However, he said the possibility of having hip surgery again has been ruled out.

“I did this six years ago,” Backstrom said.

“I don’t have a schedule here. We’re just going to listen to the body and take it easy. We’ll see what happens. I hope I’ll be back in skating soon.”

Last season, Backstrom led Washington and was 20e in the NHL with 53 points (15 goals, 38 assists) in 55 regular season games, but was limited to one assist in five Stanley Cup playoff games, when the Capitals were eliminated by the Boston Bruins in first round.

He enters his 15e The season in the NHL is the second of a five-year, $ 46 million contract (average annual value of $ 9.2 million) he signed on Jan. 14, 2020.

“I think what’s happened is right over time, over the years it’s eroded a little bit,” Backstrom said. “I just think it happens and when it does you just have to reset it and rebuild it, and that’s where we are. And it’s taking longer than you expected, but it’s not. is that progress. Just part of rebuilding it and making it strong again. ”

Selected by Washington with the 4th pick in the 2006 NHL Draft, Backstrom has led the league with 722 assists in 1,011 regular-season games since his debut at the start of the 2007-08 season, and his 980 points rank fifth in the NHL in that span behind the Capitals forward Alex Ovechkin (1,122), Pittsburgh Penguins center Sidney crosby (1,103), Chicago Blackhawks forward Patrick kane (1 088), and the center of the Penguins Evgeni malkin (1,019).

If in good health, Backstrom would be one of the main candidates to represent Sweden at the Beijing Olympics in 2022. It would be his third Olympics after competing in the Vancouver 2010 Olympics and the Sochi Olympics. in 2014, when he helped Sweden win the silver medal.

“Honestly, right now I’m just focusing on getting back here and making sure I feel as good as possible,” Backstrom said. “By planning ahead we’ll see what happens, but the Olympics are obviously a huge tournament and a very fun tournament to play. But we’ll see how it goes. I have to prepare here first and produce. , so I do the (Olympic team).