The Washington Times - January 6, 2012, 02:31PM

SAN JOSE, Calif. | On Thursday everything looked great, with Nicklas Backstrom skating and laughing like nothing went wrong. He made the trip with the Washington Capitals to California and seemed optimistic about playing Saturday night at the Sharks.

“I’m not the coach who’s picking the team. But I’m available,” Backstrom said Thursday. “I’m feeling good now, so hopefully the team will pick me.”


But Friday morning the rest of the Caps took the ice for practice without Backstrom, who was still being looked at in the locker room at the time, according to a team spokesman. It did not appear to be the worst-case scenario, though, as Backstrom came on about 15 minutes later following an evaluation.

Backstrom quickly changed into a gray second-line jersey, with Alexander Semin going back to white (fourth line and extra). Backstrom did not appear to be bothered by any sort of problems Friday morning.

Backstrom took an elbow to the head from Calgary’s Rene Bourque on Tuesday night, a play that led to a five-game suspension. The 24-year-old Caps center left the game later on in the third period with some head pain but did not appear to have any ill-effects during Thursday’s workout in Arlington.

Alex Ovechkin won a bet with Karl Alzner on the Canada-Russia world junior game that forced the young defenseman to wear a Russia jersey for Thursday’s practice. Sweden beat Russia for the gold medal Thursday night, but Ovechkin was not sporting yellow and blue at HP Pavilion.


Alex Ovechkin - Brooks Laich - Troy Brouwer

Marcus Johansson - Nicklas Backstrom - Mike Knuble

Jason Chimera - Jeff Halpern - Joel Ward

Matt Hendricks - Mathieu Perreault - Jay Beagle - Alexander Semin