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“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.”

The Caps lost to the Sharks 5-2.

Jan. 8Backstrom was not on the ice for practice, and neither was defenseman Mike Green, who left the Sharks game early. Hunter had no real update to provide.

Jan. 9 — With the Caps in Los Angeles for a game against the Kings, news came out that Backstrom and Green were both sent home to the D.C. area.

“Right now, it’s no sense having an all-night flight and you get them home early and get a workout in tomorrow and some treatment tomorrow,” Hunter said. “Basically day-to-day. We’re being cautious with both of them.”
Without Backstrom and Green, the Caps lost to the Kings 5-2.

Jan. 11 — The Caps placed Backstrom on injured reserve, retroactive to Jan. 3.

“We’re being cautious with him still,” Hunter said. “He’s not feeling 100 percent, so we’re being careful.”

The Caps’ coach added there was no time frame “right now” for Backstrom to return to skating.

Jan. 12 — A sure-fire All-Star based on his stats, 13 goals and 29 assists, Backstrom was not on the roster announced by the NHL. Dennis Wideman and Alex Ovechkin got the nod for the Caps, and the idea seemed to be that Backstrom’s uncertain status was the reason for his being left off.

At night, the Flames traded Bourque to the Montreal Canadiens, who were coincidentally on the Caps’ schedule for the following week.

Jan. 17 — Addressing reporters to talk about Green’s sports hernia surgery, general manager George McPhee did not rule out Backstrom returning before the All-Star break.

“Nick’s doing really well,” McPhee said. “He feels good. I’m, I guess, happy to report that he’s progressing.”

He added that the Caps were going to be “real careful because we want this to be a one time thing and something we never have to worry about again.”

Jan. 18 — John Erskine, Hunter and the Caps said all the right things the morning before facing Bourque about needing points more than retribuation, but Matt Hendricks needed only nine seconds into the Canadiens forward’s first shift to challenge him to a fight. Hendricks probably lost the fight, but teammates lauded him for stepping up.

“That’s the game of hockey. There’s consequences that you have to pay for actions. He followed the code. I asked him and that was it,” Hendricks said. “He said yep. I’m sure he wanted to get it over with as early as he could as well.”

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