Nicklas Backstrom not on the ice with the Washington Capitals and legitimate fears about a concussion set a dreary tone Wednesday. His skating with teammates like nothing went wrong turned everything around Thursday.
“I felt pretty good out there. I’m just following all the steps that has to be made,” an upbeat Backstrom said. “I’m doing what they tell me to do, so we’ll see.”
Backstrom, who has a history of migraines, said it was hard to tell whether an elbow from Rene Bourque just aggravated that problem. But he skated Thursday morning for the full practice and did not appear to show any ill-effects.
“By practicing and doing the whole practice with his line, yeah, it’s better than we thought, which is good for us,” coach Dale Hunter said.
Good might be an understatement, given that Backstrom is far and away the Caps’ leading scorer with 42 points and is also the teams’ most valuable player. He’s set to go on the team’s road trip but no determination has been made as to whether he’ll play at the San Jose Sharks on Saturday night.
“I’m not the coach who’s picking the team. But I’m available,” Backstrom said. “I’m feeling good now, so hopefully the team will pick me.”
Backstrom said he felt the hit to his “whole head” but wasn’t holding back at practice, another good sign.
“I feel fine,” the 24-year-old center said. “You’ve got to push yourself to know where exactly you are.”
But with NHL protocol requiring certain things and the Caps understanding his value, they’re going through the necessary process.
“To be on the safe side, we’re doing all the tests,” Backstrom said. “We’ve just got to make sure it’s a hundred percent.”