- The Washington Times - Friday, January 13, 2012

There’s no indication of when Washington Capitals leading scorer Nicklas Backstrom (42 points) will be back. With head injuries, symptoms can change from day to day.

That’s likely what coach Dale Hunter means when he says, “Nicklas, he’s just day-to-day still.” Backstrom has no timetable to return to skating or game action.

But Friday night, Hunter was asked about the possibility of keeping Backstrom out through the NHL All-Star break like the Caps are doing with defenseman Mike Green, who was placed on long-term injured reserve this week.

“The All-Star break’s close — 11 days — we’re monitoring him, and we’ll see how he is, day-to-day how he is,” Hunter said. “As it gets closer, it could be the call, too, but we don’t know for sure.”

Backstrom has not played since Jan. 3, when he took an elbow to the head from former Calgary forward (now with Montreal) Rene Bourque and has not skated since Jan. 6 in San Jose.

‘Timing is everything’

Green was placed on LTIR Thursday, a decision Hunter explained as a chance to give the 26-year-old more time to rehab his injured groin.

“He’s just busy getting more strength. With the All-Star break coming up, so he can come back the second game back. It’s pretty good decision right now,” the coach said. “We wish we had him, mind you. But to give him some rest and get him stronger and keep rehabbing a lot.”

Hunter went on to say that “timing is everything, and with the All-Star break, he’ll get lots of time to get it stronger.”

Tomas Kundratek played his second career NHL game Friday night in place of Green.

Ovechkin reacts to All-Star nod

Alex Ovechkin has gone to the NHL All-Star Game every season of his career, yet he had to cancel plans for the final weekend in January when he was selected to go to Ottawa this year despite subpar stats.

This is his fifth straight apperance, tying a franchise record held by Peter Bondra.

“You get used to it. I was actually planning to go to vacation for a little bit, just to rest from hockey. It was my plan,” Ovechkin said. “But in the back of my head, I always think if I can go there, I have to go because it’s big opportunity for me to be there. It’s nice when the league and people wants to see you out there.”

Eakin’s back

Cody Eakin got a one-game cameo back with the Caps on New Year’s Eve in Columbus after a long stretch early in the season. He was recalled Thursday when Green went on LTIR and hopes to make this a longer stay.

“I want to come up here and prove them right,” Eakin said. “They’re giving me another opportunity so hopefully I can work hard and do that.”

Eakin, who had three goals and three assists in his first 19 NHL games, knows exactly what he needs to do when back with the Caps.

“Just get back to the way I was playing: gritty, first one on the forecheck, simple plays,” he said. “I was over-thinking a lot of things about moving my feet and kind of getting lost a little bit. But I think that happens when you go out there and try not to make a mistake rather than play your game. “

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