The Washington Times - March 21, 2012, 12:45PM

The eighth day was Tuesday, and Nicklas Backstrom rested. Seven straight days on the ice earned a scheduled day off, but the Washington Capitals center was back at it Wednesday.

It was his eighth skate in the past nine days, this time for 35 minutes with strength and conditioning coach Mark Nemish.


“He’s getting better,” coach Dale Hunter said.

Even though Backstrom is not yet taking part in full team practices, this is progress.

“It’s good to see him around, yeah it is,” Hunter said. “We all know he’s a special guy, special player. We always like to see him come back; he’s skating. But he feels good about himself. The worst thing you can do to a player is don’t put him on the ice. It’s tough. He’s back skating, he’s feeling better and it’s good for the Washington Capitals and for Nicky.”

Asked about whether Backstrom was getting close to rejoining team practices, Hunter seemed to suggest that could happen next week.

“He’s going to do more and more,” he said. “You’ll see next week, he’s going to do more.”

There is still no official timetable for Backstrom’s return from the concussion he suffered Jan. 3. Backstrom has missed 35 games, and the Caps are 16-15-4 in that time.