During the NHL European Media Tour in early August, Capitals first-line center Nicklas Backstrom sat down with NHL.com’s Peter Sibner and spoke about the upcoming season. Despite losing more talent than any other team in the NHL, Backstrom remains optimistic about next season.
“[W]e have high expectations about ourselves too. We want to keep pushing forward. It was a tough end to the season last year and we’ve had a couple of them. But someday we will break that curse.”
The Capitals have never advanced past the second round during the Alex Ovechkin era and have lost 10 of 11 postseason series all-time against Metropolitan Division rival, the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Backstrom also has high hopes in Swedish prospect Christian Djoos who impressed at the AHL level last year as well as top forward prospect Jakub Vrana.
The full interview, as translated by Magnus Cadelin, is below.
Peter Sibner: “Nicklas Backstrom, the season 2017-18 is about to get under way, how do you see the Washinton Capitals and the roster you have this year?”
Nicklas Backstrom: “It feels good. Obviously there’s a lot of changes that’s been going on. But it feels good to be able to give young players a chance to come up and play [at the NHL level].”
Peter Sibner: “You let Johansson, Williams and Shattenkirk go. Which young players do you see making the roster and get some ice time?”
Nicklas Backstrom: “I think about the guys we saw last year. Jakub Vrana, I have big hope in seeing Christian Djoos be the player he was in the AHL last season. I have a positive vibe about the young guys. I hope one or two can surprise.”
Peter Sibner: “You’ve let go of the disappointment from the playoffs last season, now you face a really tough Metropolitan division. What do you think the Washington Capitals have to do, to climb that threshold and get to the next level?”
Nicklas Backstrom: “First of all, all we need to get to the playoffs. And when we’re there, it absolutely doesn’t matter if we have home ice advantage. Hopefully, if we get to the playoffs, our younger players aren’t burdened by the past.”
Peter Sibner: “Will it help you as a team to don’t have the same kind of pressure to succeed this year, now that you’ve lost a couple of important players.”
Nicklas Backstrom: “Well, sure on one hand. But we have high expectations about ourselves too. We want to keep pushing forward. It was a tough end to the season last year and we’ve had a couple of them. But someday we will break that curse.”
Peter Sibner: “And what about you? You had a great season last year, you’re in your prime. What have you worked on during the summer to be able to contribute even more?”
Nicklas Backstrom: “I’ve worked on my health, to try and stay healthy and be able to lay every game. We didn’t play [as many minutes] during the regular season last year, as we used to and I think that’s one of the reasons I felt fresh every game. But of course, the summer is important. You don’t have the same amount of time during the season.”
Translation by Magnus Cadelin.
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