PatMcDermott

Photo credit: Patrick McDermott

Washington Capitals center Nicklas Backstrom shed his baby blue non-contact practice jersey Monday morning. The Swede took rushes with the team’s second line, alternating in drills with Justin Williams, Andre Burakovsky, and Marcus Johansson. While the non-contact jersey is gone, Backstrom is still limited on the ice until he is cleared by doctors.

Backstrom will meet with the surgeon who operated on his hip this week, which will give the team a more accurate timeline on when he can return.

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Save for Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom is the best player on the Washington Capitals – and it’s been that way for some time. Seeing him on crutches, then, after undergoing arthroscopic hip surgery in late May was an unwelcome sight for Caps fans. On Wednesday, after four months of recovery, Backstrom practiced with his teammates for the first time since the operation — albeit in a non-contact jersey. Still, the star center who didn’t miss a game last season is likely to miss this year’s opener, though the a quicker return that some feared.

“There’s no timetable,” Capitals head coach Barry Trotz said when asked when Backstrom might get back into game action or lose the non-contact jersey. “Whenever he’s ready, he’s ready. I consider Nick a franchise player and you never put a franchise player at risk. When he’s ready, he’ll be ready. That will be determined by our medical staff, his doctor and more importantly, Nick himself.”

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Photos: Amanda Bowen

On Tuesday afternoon, the Capitals celebrated all twelve months of the year with Homeward Trails’ Animal Rescue dogs for the 2015-16 Caps Canine Calendar. Each month had its own silly theme based on a season or holiday, with the players and dogs dressed accordingly.

Here’s a quick preview: Caps roomies Tom Wilson and Michael Latta celebrated Valentine’s Day by putting roses in their mouth for February; Braden Holtby wore a sombrero and poncho for Cinco de Mayo; and Karl Alzner dressed in a skin-tight skeleton costume with his dogs for Halloween in October.

January models Andre Burakovsky and Marcus Johansson had problems. By the time the photographer was ready for them, the puppies they were carrying fell asleep in their arms. Adorable, but improvisation was needed. The New Years theme became “falling asleep before midnight.” After two rounds of throwing balloons, the crew tried popping confetti champagne bottles that startled the two pups awake in the middle of the take. The Swedes handled it well: with many puppy kisses.

After the main sets, the photographer did sessions with the player families that wanted their own set of photos. #SquadGoals.

Prepare yourself for enormous amounts of adorable. We can’t wait to buy this calendar.

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tom-wilson-ed-sheeran-concert

Photo: @peteglowdc

Tuesday night, a third of the Caps roster traveled up to Boston for the team’s second preseason game in consecutive nights. Despite a third period goal from Nate Schmidt, the Caps lost 2-1 due to a David Pastrňák one-timer 12 seconds into overtime.

Meanwhile, Tom Wilson – a night after scoring the game-winning goal against Carolina – was back at Verizon Center, but this time to see tiny tattooed pop singer, Ed Sheeran, in concert.

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Photo: @pt_andreas

Sunday afternoon, injured first-line center Nicklas Backstrom traveled to FedEx Field like Tom Wilson and Michael Latta did last week, to watch the Washington Redskins take on the St. Louis Rams. After a surprisingly drama-free week out of Ashburn, the Redskins won their first game of the season, 24-10, and are now 1-1.

Backstrom went to the game with his daughter Haley, his girlfriend Liza Berg, and his new personal trainer, Andreas Öhgren, visiting from Sweden.

Öhgren is helping Backstrom train at Kettler while recovering from hip surgery. In a recent interview with arbetarbladet.se, Backstrom gushed about Öhgren’s work with him.

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ovi-backstrom

Photo: Washington Capitals

For the last eight seasons, Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom have been one of the league’s top performing duos– the cheese to one other’s macaroni, if you will. Friday, on the first day of the Capitals’ 2015-16 Training Camp, the straw-haired Swedish superstar center was asked just what it is that makes number eight so great.

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ovechkin-nhl16

EA Sports’ NHL16 got some splainin’ to do. Despite Alex Ovechkin leading the league in goals and Nicklas Backstrom leading the league in assists, EA Sports has rated the two stars’ digi-versions of themselves pretty dang conservatively.

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backstrom-carlson

Photo: Alex Brandon

We already told you that Alex Ovechkin took home the Rocket Richard Trophy for the fifth time and Braden Holtby finished fourth in voting for the Vezina Trophy. But there are a few other juicy tidbits from the NHL Awards ceremony that we missed.

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There were a lot of great Caps Father’s Day wishes Sunday. From Tom Wilson’s Instagram pic with his dad to Joel Ward’s sweet words for his deceased father Randal, Caps players brought the feels on social media.

My personal favorite Father’s Day tribute, however, was definitely the below tweet from Michael Latta.

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backstrom-hip-injury

Photo: Greg Fiume

Two weeks ago, the Washington Capitals announced that first line center Nicklas Backstrom went under the knife to have an arthroscopic procedure done on his hip. The club added in a statement that they were “confident” he will be “completely healthy” before the start of the 2015-16 regular season.

Over the weekend, Backstrom spoke to Erik Illerhag of his hometown Swedish newspaper Gefle Dagblad and revealed that this injury was something that was bothering him all year.

As translated by Malin Elis of Hockey Ramblings, Backstrom told GD.se, “I’ve been in pain since sometime in November so we had to fix it.”

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