The Washington Capitals face a crucial Game 4 match-up with the Tampa Bay Lightning in Washington tonight. After winning the first two games in Tampa, the Capitals dropped Game 3. Losing tonight would undo all the work they did to get home ice advantage in the series, and win those first two games. With that in mind, they have re-inforcements in the lineup. Nicklas Backstrom who has been out of the Capitals lineup with an upper-body injury since Game 5 of the previous round against the Pittsburgh Penguins returns to the lineup tonight.
The 30-year-old Swedish centre took part in the Capitals’ morning skate today, participating in line rushes and power play drills. The Capitals will continue with Lars Eller centring the team’s second line with T.J. Oshie and Jakub Vrana. Backstrom will play on the third line with Chandler Stephenson and Brett Connolly. While has performed admirably in his place, there is no doubt about the kind of impact Backstrom can have in the lineup.
Alex Chiasson will be scratched to make room for Backstrom
Nicklas Backstrom returns for Washington Capitals in Game 4
This season, Backstrom had 21 goals and 50 assists for 71 points. He also added 46 minutes in penalties. His possession numbers were 51.1 Corsi with a relative Corsi of +4.4. He has three goals and 10 assists in 11 Stanley Cup Playoff games this year.
Over his 11-year NHL career, Backstrom has only played for the Washington Capitals. He has put up 209 goals and 590 assists for 799 career points. He was originally drafted in the first round, fourth overall in the 2006 NHL Entry Draft by the Washington Capitals.
“It would be pretty cool,” captain Alex Ovechkin told the Canadian Press. “He wants it to (be) back. He wants to be part of the success and he’s our best centre. If he’s going to be in the lineup, it’s going to give us more room to create with the lines and the team’s going to be happy. He’s our leader. We all love him.”
“He’s the backbone of our team,” goaltender Braden Holtby said. “It’s always nice to have Nick in the lineup. He’s a one of a kind player. … If he’s going to be in the lineup, he’s going to Nick Backstrom.”
TORONTO, ON – APRIL 04: Washington Capitals Center Nicklas Backstrom (19) in warm ups prior to the regular season NHL game between the Washington Capitals and Toronto Maple Leafs on April 4, 2017 at Air Canada Centre in Toronto, ON. (Photo by Gerry Angus/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)