The Washington Times - March 14, 2012, 11:09AM

It was set to be an off day for the Washington Capitals with limited to no media availability, but at Kettler Capitals Iceplex Nicklas Backstrom made some surprisingly good news by skating Wednesday for apparently the second straight day.

Backstrom was in full pads, according to those witnessing the star center on the ice. He just returned from Sweden this week, where he was visiting family as part of a mental health segment of his concussion rehab. I’m told he felt good after 20 minutes on the ice.

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Backstrom, who suffered the concussion Jan. 3 on a cheap-shot elbow by Rene Bourque, last skated back-to-back days on Jan. 5 and 6, at Kettler one time and in San Jose the other.

He was sent home early from that West Coast road trip and did not skate again until five minutes on Jan. 23. His presence around the team has ebbed and flowed.

A team spokesman said in an email that Backstrom would not be available to speak to reporters on Wednesday.

I’ve been improving a lot,” he said in an interview with the Caps’ official website. “I don’t have the same feeling as I had from when I first got the hit.”

The Caps have won four games in a row.

“I certainly think we’re capable of making the playoffs with this team right now. If Nicky Backstrom came back it certainly would improve our chances of being able to win a Cup,” general manager George McPhee said Feb. 27. “We can make the playoffs with this team and if he comes back we can beat anybody in this conference.”