Nicklas Backstrom had a strong opening night for the Caps. He had two beautiful assists, a 59 percent shot attempt percentage, and won 69 percent of the draws he took. Barry Trotz was thrilled with the way his second line played. Backstrom was the driving force behind the success.
Backstrom’s assist on the Caps’ second goal was what I kept going back to when re-watching parts of the game. From the patience and vision shown, to the execution of the pass, this play was a perfect example of what makes Backstrom one the the NHL’s best centers.
The most remarkable thing about this play is that Backstrom saw it developing so far in advance and had the confidence to hold onto the puck long enough to let the play develop.
In the picture above, Backstrom is entering the high-slot with the puck, and with a pretty clean look at the Pens’ net. Most players would drool over this amount of space in such a prime area and take an unscreened shot from above the hash marks that would likely be stopped. But not Backstrom. He’s already made up his mind that he’s going to draw the Pens attention and then drop the puck to Andre Burakovsky, who is still in the freaking neutral zone.
Even more remarkable? How long before the picture above Backstrom had already decided he was going to drop the puck to Burakovsky.
This picture is a second or so before the first picture. You can see Backstrom looking back to assess where Burakovsky is. It’s at this point, with Burakovsky somewhere in eastern Pennsylvania, that Backstrom has decided how this play is going to develop.
The patience, vision, and anticipation from Backstrom here are top notch.
Here’s a look at the full play
We all know Backstrom has amazing vision and that his passing skills are near the best in the world. But it’s still nice to sometimes take a minute to appreciate his all-world skills when we see such a perfect example of them.
Headline photo: Patrick Smith
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