The Washington Times - January 7, 2012, 03:31PM

SAN JOSE, Calif. | The Washington Capitals will go into the Shark Tank on Saturday night with a lineup that doesn’t include their best player, Nicklas Backstrom.

Backstrom will not play at the San Jose Sharks, four days after taking an elbow to the head from Flames forward Rene Bourque. Coach Dale Hunter made the announcement but also said Backstrom had not had any setbacks.


“You’ve just to be careful,” Hunter said. “He feels good, but you’ve still got to be careful with it.”

Players generally seemed to support the move of Backstrom taking a game off.

“It’s a good thing to do. He has to answer how he’s feeling, but we’ve all seen what happens if you put a guy in too early or if he’s not feeling right and it’s just potential for a lot more energy and potential for turning a mole hill into a mountain,” veteran right wing Mike Knuble said. “It’s smart. It’s a good idea. It’s january. It’s not like it’s a do-or-die game.”

Backstrom has only missed five games due to injury in his NHL career.

“It’s never good when you play without one of the best player on your team,” captain Alex Ovechkin said. “It is what it is and we just have to play our way right now. I think it’s great game for different guys to step up and play our way, I think, without Nicky.”