The good news came Tuesday night when general manager George McPhee said Nicklas Backstrom passed a baseline neuropsychological test, one of the final hurdles to getting back into the Washington Capitals’ lineup.
It kept coming Wednesday morning when a team spokesman confirmed that Backstrom was going on the trip to Boston with the team.
But then Dale Hunter ruled Backstrom out of Thursday’s game at the Bruins.
“No, he’s not going to play. But we just wanted him with the team so he could practice,” the Caps’ coach said. “you see the drills and he’s doing some more battle drills. If he gets in, that’s how he has to play. they’re hard drills out there.”
Backstrom likewise confirmed he’s out.
“Nope. Not tomorrow,” he said. “So we’ll see. We’ll take it day-by-day and see where it goes.”
Backstrom said his lungs are not where he wants them to be.
“Well, I’m close. I’m close to playing, I think,” he said. “Obviously it takes a while to get back in normal shape. But I don’t have too much time, either.”
When asked if Saturday’s game against the Montreal Canadiens was a possible target for Backstrom’s return, Hunter said: “We don’t know yet.”
It’s a matter of game shape. Backstrom skated for the 15th time in 16 days Wednesday.
“Just making sure he’s in good shape and he’s comfortable,” McPhee said. “It’s going to be his decision.”
Hunter said it’ll be a consultation between Backstrom, trainer Greg Smith and others.
“It’ll be Smitty and Nick and the staff,” Hunter said. “It’s important to know that he’s ready, and if he’s ready, he’ll play.”