Nick Backstrom: 2013-14 Season Review

The motion picture you are about to witness may startle you. It would not have been possible, otherwise, to sufficiently emphasize the frightful toll of the new drug menace which is destroying the youth of America in alarmingly increasing number: Zyrtec.

Okay, Let’s talk about Nick Backstrom.

By the Numbers

82 Games played
19.3 Average time on ice per game
18 Goals
61 Assists
49.3% Shot attempt percentage during 5v5
42.3% Goal percentage during 5v5
7.2% On-ice shooting percentage during 5v5
91.2% On-ice saving percentage during 5v5

Peter’s Take

Nick Backstrom is a rock. Aside from that head injury two seasons ago, Nicky has been Washington’s most dependable forward: playing every game this season and– for the most part– tilting the ice in the Caps’ advantage. But 2013-14 was the first season in which Backstrom was on ice for more opponent shots than Caps shots during even strength. If we’re to believe he is personally in decline, we’d have to dismiss the nearly uniform fall-off other players saw under the Oates administration. Something tells me Backstrom has more brightness ahead.

Still, it’s hard to deny that Backstrom’s utility as Alex Ovechkin‘s set-up man isn’t what it used to be. The Caps owned exactly half of the 5v5 shot attempts when Ovi and Backstrom played together this season– their lowest combined share since forever. They still play better together than apart  (which you’d think would be obvious), but if Backstrom’s success is measured in Ovechkin’s 5v5 goal total, uh oh. One imagines Ovi’s perfect linemate as a guy who carries the puck through neutral and gets him that little bit of space he needs to execute. Is that guy still Nicky? I hope so, but I wonder.

Nicky on RMNB

In Pictures

Maybe Backstrom’s prettiest move of the season.

Hey, remember when Nick got suspended from the playoffs for a crosscheck to the face? I hope it’s not a pattern.

And here’s the GIF of the season until I change my mind:

Yes, we’ve got a shirt.

Your Turn

What did you make of Nicky’s season? Should he continue to be The Guy Behind The Guy? Got any good Zyrtec jokes?

Read more: Japers Rink

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  • Jack Conness

    I love Nicky. He is a great player. I know he put up awesome numbers. BUT I thought it could of been better. I hate to be the Debby Downer here but I guess I just expected a little more from him. He puts up a killer amount of assists. Just like Ovi does goals. But a lot of these come on the PP. Is is Backstrom’s fault? Probably not. More of an Oates’ issue here. But he wasn’t dominant 5v5. I feel like a lot had to do with the style of game they were playing AND playing with the disappearing act Marcus Johansson. He was just a notch above 50% on face-offs. I wish he shot more because his wrister was lethal at times.

    Don’t get me wrong, most of the blame goes to Oates here, not Backstrom. Backstrom is a great hockey player and can’t wait to watch him for many years to come. I am eager to see how he performs under new management.

  • DashingDave314

    Nicky gave us the privilege of seeing Ian in spandex, so he gets an A+ from me.

  • Sam W.

    Backstrom continues to be my favorite current player. He was not utilized to the best of his abilities this season, as with everyone else on the roster.

  • Darla Doxstater

    Yes, it could HAVE been better.

  • Owen Johnson
  • Owen Johnson


  • DashingDave314

    Well I know what’s going to be in my nightmares tonight!

  • cj

    I think with age Backstrom has lost an edge of his old speed which does affect his ability to create space for others. That being said I look forward to a resurgence in numbers as a new style of hockey gets implemented.

  • Sarah

    This isn’t relevant, but I’ve just discovered that when I have a terrible song stuck in my head, all I have to do is listen to Peter’s version of “Bailamos” and then “freaking Ovi, freaking Beagle” gets stuck in my head instead. It’s a huge improvement, so thanks!

  • Rob W.

    They have to get another goal scorer for that first line, MOJO couldnt score on a soccer goal. I definitely think Nicky will be better 5v5 as long as we dont stick with dump n fail hockey. I still believe he is a 80-90 point player in the right system and he starts to shoot more

  • “Look at this photograph, everytime I do it makes me laugh.” Those are the only lyrics I know.

  • happy to help in my own small way

  • Lawrence

    I just think we haven’t seen the best from nicky yet. I get the feeling he is bound for greatness in the next few years. He has all the tools to be a top 5 center in the league and has performed at that level many times, but he needs to be there more consistent. A lot of games he disappears and like the opposite of ovechkin, he doesn’t get his fair share of the blame or gratitude.

  • Owen Johnson

    I am happy. I am merry. I used a rhyming dictionary.

  • Hockeynightincanada

    You really think Hunter hockey is the way to win? Without ovechkin-semin on that Hunter team, we don’t even make the playoffs, you do realize that right?

    Hunter inherited a roster of lemon-heads and taught them this concept called physicality and defense, two keys you need to learn to win in the postseason. Undoubtedly had Hunter stayed, the team would have transitioned into working on offense, just wasn’t enough time to work on all aspects in one season. Trust me when I say the best and only good playoff hockey this team ever played was under Hunter, and arguably 2008 vs the Flyers. The Caps blueline has been dreadful for about 18 years now, but what separates the Caps now to the Caps from 2008-2010 was that they had guys like Morrisonn, Eminger, Jurcina, and Erskine that could lay the body in deep to allow our puck carriers to exit the zone and move the play up the ice, which is why the deficiencies in players like Green weren’t as noticeable, and why our offense was better than in previous years.

    Hunter’s the closest thing to a real coach this team has had since Jim Schoenfeld, and while not the long-term answer for the team in winning a Stanley Cup, he was important in trying to get them to grasp the basic concepts of the game that they never learned under Hanlon and Boudreau. The work ethic was there every game in that postseason.

  • Owen Johnson

    And I apologize if my (creepy) attempts at humor have gotten bland corporate rock stuck in your head.

  • This team needs a combination the likes of Hextall as GM and Mike Keenan as head coach. No nonsense guys that won’t allow the country club atmosphere that has existed the last six or so years.

  • Hockeynightincanada

    It’s a shame. I had high hopes after 2008 and those came crashing down slowly throughout the 08 offseason to the 2009 deadline.

    I don’t know what to think of Hextall, but how many other qualified candidates are out there right now? Never been a big fan of Keenan. I think he makes a good coach if you re-build the roster and want to build them up for a couple years until they’ve learned the basic concepts and then you can hire a new coach to take over. Kind of like Quenneville succeeding Savard, Sutter succeeding Murray, etc. I don’t think you can bring Keenan in with this current crop. Would rather try and unload as many contracts as you can and fresh with a majority of the roster.

  • Sarah

    No worries, it wasn’t you. Paula Cole’s “Where Have All the Cowboys Gone?” was playing in the store as I was buying plates. Several of them were broken when I got home, which is probably not a coincidence.
    People who’ve really grown up in the country in Texas give suspicious side eye to stuff like that, even before it gets overplayed ’til your ears bleed.

  • hess

    after the montreal debacle, a 2C and a SAHD would have sealed more playoff success. letting gmgm manage the team to be more of a defensive team without providing the players to do so is one of the major reasons the capitals find themselve behind the best NHL teams now. piss poor management that is out of the way, finally.

  • So I see all the banned posters from CSN have migrated here……better than nothing I suppose.

  • hess

    did they show you the door phil?

  • Graham Dumas

    It took me until the last bullet point to understand your twitter post re this feed. I honestly thought that was Tomas Fleischmann on a really bad day.

  • Yep, Fluffie got me banned……and I wasn’t even that over the top.

  • hess

    i’ve been nailing CSN with emails from off the CSN board copy and paste of fluffy and everyones responses to him. if they can’t see that there is a problem with fluffy and the spambot, it’s not worth posting over there anymore. there has been discussion about possibly setting up a GBB blog. keep reading the CSN board, and i will continue to email towson in regards to getting it set up.

  • JH

    Backstrom may be the most underappreciated player on the Caps. It’s insane not to keep him on the line with Ovi. We need someone else on left wing to provide another scoring threat so defenses have less success keying on Ovi, and since MoJo could see an empty net in front of him and still pass it. MoJo would be better used centering the second or third line (depending on whether we get Grabo back).

    Notwithstanding the criticalness of Backstrom, I do think it’s unfair to single out Ovi for poor defense when the Center has way more defensive responsibility. And Nicky could improve his faceoff percentage, which is barely above 50 percent, I believe.

    If Nicky doesn’t retire a cap and his number is not hoisted to the rafters of Verizon, I’ll be sad.

  • Trade Ovie for Tavares and Backstrom in a package deal to Nashville for Weber and this team improves immediately. Sign Moulson to play along side Tavares again and the goal scoring is still there as well. This team needs to be blown up!

  • hess

    laich, gawn
    green, gawn
    blow it up, but nooooooooooooooooooo!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Matt Dorsey

    As good as a set up man as he is, I feel like he needs the time and space on the PP to be at his creative best. I don’t think he is in the level of other top centers and carrying the puck through traffic, drawing attention and then finding the open man.

  • Sounds good man, thanks!

  • I will read this GBB blog. Lemme know what’s happening with it or if you need any help.

  • Catherine__M

    ….are you arguing against your own argument you set up?

  • JH

    At least in your advocacy of blowing the team up, you offer up an alternative. It’s not a plausible one, but it is an alternative.

    For one, there’s a salary cap. Tavares, Weber and Moulson cost a lot more than Backstrom and Ovi.

    Second, what makes you think Weber or Tavares would even be available for a trade? A lot of presumptions in that, I would think.

  • Jake Ettawakapow
  • Actually it is well known that Nashville is wanting to shed salary and it is also rumored that Tavares is not happy with the Isles so both are available.
    No cap? Amnesty Laich and trade Green and there is plenty of room for all three. I daresay just the amnesty of Laich would clear enough space.

  • JH

    Not opposed to buying out Laich.

  • Doublenickelporn

    Ovi is not a RW. Its the biggest joke in sports to think moving him to RW re energized his game. His 5-5 production was nearly the same as it was in 10/11, parking him in the left dot on the PP is what got him back to be a 50 goal scorer. So you now have your LW along side Backstrom.

  • Doublenickelporn

    Thank you. Try watching his London teams, they certainly don’t lack in the scoring department.

  • I agree. Except for the “biggest joke in sports” thing.

  • Diller M

    i agree and would like to add that when Nickey is shooting the offense becomes that much more potent, freeing up the lanes for passes to Ovi and … Well pretty much just Ovi

  • TowsonCapsFan

    Actually, Backstrom (and linemates) needs to find more time and space 5 on 5. He scored 44 of his 79 points on the PP (56%). That’s more than enough.

  • Doublenickelporn
  • hess

    you can’t keep a GBB down!!!

  • Guest
  • Graham Dumas

    See below:

  • JenniferH

    I bought The Shirt for my sister for her birthday. SHE LOVES IT! 😀

  • seandlax9


    if you are going to critique Backstrom, you have to include the fact that he doesn’t shoot nearly as much as he should, and that he was abysmal on the faceoff dot this year for a 1C.

  • Dude,

    I’m trying to keep these short. You get to discuss that stuff down here.

  • seandlax9

    Just saying, if you are going to post #’s, then don’t paint a picture of puppies, rainbows, and unicorn farts when there were big holes in a players game.

    Plus, you know, faceoff % (even broken down into offensive/defensive zones) is kind of an important number to discuss when talking about a center.


    Small minority here but I’ll take Ovechkin over backstrom every day of the week and twice on Sundays. You can’t really call Backstrom the caps most consistent player this season. That title belongs to someone on the third line. Or better yet Mikhail grabovksi was, bar none, the caps most consistent player game in game out. He produced and he did his duties as a center (like winning faceoffs)

  • seandlax9

    Backstrom for Weber straight up would only shed Nashville around 1 mil. It isn’t plausible. Plus as much as we need d-men, top 6 centers are a valuable commodity.

    We can get more than 1 top 4 d-men for what we would have to give to get Weber.

  • johnnymorte

    Nicky had a great season, and it would have been even better if he was with Ovi more. 80 pts on a team that doesn’t make the playoffs is outstanding. He was a consummate captain on the PP and his two-way play gets better every year. A couple of years down the road he will be one of the best two way players in the game. With a mature Kuznetsov or a healthy Grabovski on LW, I have no doubt that he will be at the 100 pt level again.

  • Doublenickelporn

    ha ha

  • Doublenickelporn

    I’d probably vote Chimmer or Ward, and did he take face-offs, I thought only Wings took draws under Oates?

  • Guest


  • Guest


  • Guest


  • Guest


  • Sarah

    Please keep trying, sir or madam. I for one am extremely curious to witness unicorn farts.

  • seandlax9
  • Eric Schulz

    If you want more skill alongside those two, Kuznetsov seems like a good choice… if, for one, disagree. I think a better complement would be a guy who can win board battles, forecheck, and play defense… simplified, a guy who drives possession. Ovie and Backstrom can do a lot with the puck, we need a guy who can ensure that they have the puck more than the opposition. Obviously he needs to be able to score and set-up goals, but that’s not the primary role he needs to be filling. Based on what I saw from Penner, he seemed like a great choice (and him screening the goalie with either Ovie or Backstrom shooting would be wonderful too).
    Also, if we throw Kuznetsov on the top line, there’s not a lot of skill available for the 2nd. If we have Kuz Nasty and Grabovski on the 2nd (and finish that line with a player similar to Penner), then those are two really good top lines. (I’d vote for Fehr, he drives possession… if we let Penner go – likely – but keep Grabovski – we really, really need to find a way to keep him – then I’d say Fehr then Brouwer. Wilson is a wild-card here).

  • Doublenickelporn
  • bardorabo

    I wouldn’t say over 50% is abysmal. How much he shoots to me isn’t very interesting, but sure, he could shoot more.

  • Eric Schulz

    I can’t believe there are people who defend burying our best players, and doing a great job of mismanaging the talent of the players on the roster. I thought we all agreed that that was the biggest reason to fire Oates; Hunter was even worse at it. Boudreau’s defense was better than Oates once Boudreau emphasized defense. Hunter was a shitty coach; he was just as bad as Oates, and he didn’t even get Ovechkin going, which really shouldn’t be hard, since he’s easily the best goal scorer in the league. Hunter sucked.

  • kuznetsy

    Oh my god brilliant.
    Wait where is this from??!!

  • seandlax9

    Teams cheat on Ovechkin because they know that he’s the only real scoring threat on his line, and the entire offense is basically “Get the puck to Ovi”. So yeah, Backstrom shooting and forcing defenses to worry about his shot and not only his passing certainly is “very interesting”.

    He was barely over 50%, and would completely disappear on the dot on some nights. He was not good at faceoffs this year.

  • A guy like Simmonds would be perfect on that line

  • Matt Dorsey

    That was what I was saying, lots of time and space on PP and he was effective. Without the time and space that the PP allows, I don’t think he is a top 5 playmaker.

  • Looks like John K to me.

  • When you win a faceoff, your team gets the puck and an opportunity to shoot it. That is addressed above.

  • TowsonCapsFan

    Ok, gotcha. The original post was slightly confusing.

  • JH

    I think that formula works too. We need lines people are scared of. Right now we really don’t.

  • seandlax9

    No, it’s not