TAMPA, Fla. | Nick Backstrom is at worst the Capitals’ third-best player. He’s their second-highest-paid player, too, at $6.7 million a season.
These playoffs, he simply hasn’t produced.
Backstrom hasn’t scored in 15 games; his last goal was March 22. But teammates said they’re not worried about him playing poorly. They say he’s doing lots of other things despite this scoring drought.
OK, so I asked Bruce Boudreau on Tuesday morning what he thought Backstrom is doing well.
“Other than scoring, you can see that offensively he’s fighting the puck more than I’ve seen him fight it, but he’s always in position defensively, he never gives the puck away, he’s responsible, kills penalties,” the Caps’ coach said. “He does what we ask him to do all the time, he plays big minutes, never complains and he’s tireless. Yeah you’d like that element to come back in, but I’ve never mentioned it to him that you gotta be doing this and you gotta be doing that ‘cause he does so many other things well.”
Marcus Johansson talked about Backstrom “creating space” for his teammates. He is doing that, finding open ice and drawing defenders away from his linemates. He has been good on the penalty kill, particularly in Game 2.
But the Caps rely on Backstrom so much for scoring that the power play and the offense in general is hampered by his struggles.
“I should have been scoring a lot more goals,” Backstrom said Saturday. That’s for sure.”
Of course, if and when Backstrom breaks out of this slump, he could do so in a big way. And don’t be surprised if a comeback happens in this series that it will be because of Backstrom.