By Ian Oland
Nicklas Backstrom was unable to finish Tuesday’s game against the New York Islanders. Early in the game, Backstrom got hit in the face with the puck, absorbing a slap shot dump-in to the left cheek. He also got hit late in the third period with a shot, which would eventually force him to retire to the locker room. Thursday, Backstrom returned for the Capitals’ morning skate.
“I had some tough breaks last game but I’m feeling good today,” Backstrom said. “Back to normal.”
But not everything was quite the same. Such as Backstrom’s face, which featured a black eye.
“A lot of credit to the doctors that are there,” Backstrom said. “They are used to doing everything pretty quick so when you walk out of the game like that, they are very good at making sure they heal you quick so you can get back out there. That’s all credit to the doctor.”
The biggest annoyance with his swollen face was less the pain and more “my son wants to touch [my black eye] all the time,” Backsstrom said. “I’m sure if he plays hockey he will get used to it.”
Backstrom’s return to good health comes at a time when the Capitals are without many of their regular players. Alex Ovechkin, Evgeny Kuznetsov, Dmitry Orlov, and Ilya Samsonov are all out due to COVID protocol while centers Lars Eller and Brian Pinho are both injured. Without three of their pivots, the team will turn to TJ Oshie to center the second line.
“Well I think this is what’s going to happen this year,” Backstrom said. It’s very unfortunate, but at the same time that’s what we all what to strive for (winning without key players). Even if guys gotta be in and out of the lineup, we still want to play good. We what to have our foundation of being a good team. I think last game we actually played a good hockey game. Just keep building on that… keep moving forward.”
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