The day after the Washington Capitals held their Championship parade on Constitution Avenue, they returned to Kettler Capitals Iceplex to clear out their lockers and break down the season with the media.
Nicklas Backstrom, who missed Game Six against Pittsburgh in Round Two due to a hand injury, as well as the first three games of the Eastern Conference Final, confirmed the exact nature of the injury on Wednesday.
It was about as bad as you imagined.
Backstrom’s comments begin at the 1:36 mark.
The Washington Post’s Isabelle Khurshudyan first broached the topic, asking Backstrom to elaborate on exactly what injury he’d been suffering from.
“Can I talk about it?” Backstrom asked the team’s PR representative, Sergey Kocharov, just off-camera.
“Yeah,” Khurshudyan replied. “When it’s after the season, you can. I’m giving you permission.”
“Thank you,” Backstrom said, with a grin and a laugh. “Thanks, Sergey.”
After that back and forth, he then admitted his injury. “I had two fractures in my finger.”
Backstrom grotesquely injured the index finger on his right hand during Game Five against the Pittsburgh Penguins. The Caps center went down on knee to block a point shot from Penguins defenseman Justin Schultz. The puck struck Backstrom on the outside of his glove.
According to Swede, those fractures in his finger do not require any off-season surgery, and it was the only injury that he suffered over the course of the playoffs. Though, he admitted, that there were limitations to what he could do when he was playing.
“Yeah, we were trying [to] play Game Six in Pittsburgh, first of all. But the hand was too swollen,” he said. “It was probably the worst finger of them all too. Any other finger it probably would have been fine. This was the one I actually use the most.”
As the playoffs progressed, and Backstrom continued to receive treatment, he was eventually able to return to the lineup.
“I got better and better for every week. Which was good. They did a great job with all the treatments and stuff,” Backstrom said. “It sucked at the time, but at the same time we got it done, and I got to play again.”
Backstrom would remain a dominant player despite having a jumbo hot dog-sized index finger.
The Swede was a point-per-game player in the back half of the ‘loffs, tallying 10 points in nine games. Backstrom had three assists in a pivotal Game Four of the Stanley Cup Final.
Lars Eller also commented on Backstrom’s injury, and his decision to play through it.
“People who don’t play hockey, I think it’s hard to understand what a broken finger means when it’s on his top hand and that’s where you control everything,” Eller said. “And for him being a center, taking faceoffs, it’s not just trying to play through the pain of trying to do the things with the puck that you want to. It’s also being more protective of it in certain situations, because there’s a lot of slashes going on, lots of heavy hits, and he has to look out for that as well.”
Eller had further praise for everything that Backstrom accomplished on his return, and through to the Capitals winning the Stanley Cup.
“Everybody knows that Nicky is maybe the best passer in the league,” he said. “His hands are very important to him, and they weren’t at 100 percent functionality. So for him to go out and play as well as he did, that was special and really speaks to his character. Just as he was able to play that well with that little function in his hand, playing with this huge thing on under his glove. That’s honorable.”
Additional reporting by Ian Oland.
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