Nicklas Backstrom had a major milestone at Capitals practice on Friday.
The legendary centerman was cleared for contact by Capitals’ trainers for the first time this season. Backstrom is rehabbing a hip injury and remains on long term injured reserve.
According to the Washington Post’s Samantha Pell, Capitals head coach Peter Laviolette said after the skate that Backstrom’s progress was promising, but he is not as close to returning to game action as TJ Oshie and Conor Sheary.
“It’s great to have him out there,” Laviolette said per The Athletic’s Tarik El-Bashir. “Just watching him out there and seeing a smile on his face. When you’re at the beginning of rehab, that smile isn’t always there.”
During practice, Backstrom was snapped by Capitals fan Rashelle Wilcox standing beside longtime BFF Alex Ovechkin along the glass.
— Rashelle (@rashelle_wilcox) December 3, 2021
Later, Ovi patted Backstrom on the helmet with a big smile.
While Backstrom has been out, he’s been working with skating coach Wendy Marco of Cold Rush Hockey. Wendy is a former competitive figure skater who is now a skating instructor and trainer.
Coach Marco rose to fame in hockey circles in 2010 after working with local product Jeff Halpern. Halpern publicly credited Wendy for helping him discover an unexpected boost in speed late in his career. Wendy also served as a skating coach for the Capitals’ former AHL affiliate, the Portland Pirates, in 2003 and for the Washington Little Capitals from 1996-2009.
Despite Backstrom’s importance to the team, the Capitals have played well in his absence, posting a 14-4-6 record – tops in the Eastern Conference. Lars Eller along with prospects Connor McMichael and Hendrix Lapierre, have filled in for Backstrom in his absence.
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