2015-16 was the year the world finally recognized that Nick Backstrom is a star. An all-star to be precise. After eight years in the NHL, most of them awesome, Backstrom got his first ASG nod, which means we are now forced to reclassify him.
Nick Backstrom is no longer underrated. Nick Backstrom is now, officially, rated.
Photo: Patrick Smith
Every year, Nicklas Backstrom’s facial hair gets a little less terrible and Alex Ovechkin’s hair gets a little more gray. Both players are still at the top of their game — for now. But by the time next season rolls around, Ovechkin will be 31. Backstrom will turn 29 soon after. Each player is getting near the latter half of their career.
“It absolutely crosses your mind,” Backstrom said when asked about him and Ovechkin running out of time to win a Stanley Cup. “We need to get over the hump we can’t get over.”
Photo: Doug Pensinger
The Washington Capitals played their best game of the postseason in Game Three of the Second Round, firing 49 shots at Pittsburgh Penguins goalie Matt Murray. After allowing three unlucky goals, two off deflections and one off a tip-in in the crease, the Capitals pummeled Pittsburgh with 21 shots on goal in the third period, scoring twice and nearly converting on a myriad of scoring chances in the final minutes. After the Capitals mustered just 10 shots through the first 40 minutes of Game Two, Nicklas Backstrom was angry with how his team played. But speaking after Monday’s loss, which put the Capitals down 2-1 in the series, he was far more confident in his team.
“We had more shots tonight than we had last game, so that’s a good thing,” Backstrom said after Game Three. “It’s a seven game series and I think it’s so important that you take something positive even if you lose. I thought we played right.”
The message was the same throughout the Capitals locker room.
Photo: Patrick McDermott
In Game Five, the Philadelphia Flyers had the fewest shots they’ve ever had in a game. But they won. The Washington Capitals, at one point up 3-0 in the series, are now heading to Philly, where the Flyers have a chance Sunday to force a Game Seven. This is the second time the Flyers have won two games in a row after being down 3-0. The last time, against the Bruins in 2010, they won the next two as well, becoming the third team in NHL history to win a series after being down 3-0.
Washington has a playoff pedigree as well. It involves losing in painful ways. It’s on everyone’s minds. But the Capitals want none of it. Here’s what they said after dropping Game Five.
Saturday night, Alex Ovechkin scored a hat trick against the St. Louis Blues in his final game of the season. The clutch scoars gave the Russian machine his seventh 50-goal season. It also pushed Nicklas Backstrom, who assisted on all three Ovechkin goals, to the 50-assist plateau for the sixth time in his career.
On the plane ride home, Ovechkin posted a selfie of himself and Backy. “50 goals 50 assists !!!not bad!!💪😂,” Ovechkin wrote on Instagram.
An hour later, former Capital Brooks Laich left them a comment that you need to see.
Saturday was a glorious night for Caps fans. Alex Ovechkin scored a hat trick, hitting the 50-goal plateau for the third straight season. He is the first player in National Hockey League history to hit the half-century mark in three straight seasons twice.
Fittingly, Nicklas Backstrom assisted on all three of Ovi tallies, giving the Swedish pivot 50 assists in an injury-shortened campaign. Ovi aknowledged him on Instagram after the game.
Photo: Amanda Bowen
There are plenty of reasons to be concerned about the direction the Caps are trending as the playoffs approach. From a lackluster power play to inconsistent goaltending, and a number of things in between, the Caps are playing their worst hockey of the season at a time when the games are about to become a lot more meaningful.
One area of concern is the play and production of all-star center Nicklas Backstrom. Qualitatively, to my lying eyes, Backstrom seems weaker on the puck and less confident handling it, two things that are normally strengths in his game that set him apart from many of his peers. Quantitatively, there’s a lot to back up the notion that Backstrom’s play has been well below his standards for an extended period now.
Photo: Sanford Myers
In a month, the Washington Capitals will likely end the season as the NHL’s best team with a home-ice advantage through the Stanley Cup playoffs. One of the team’s biggest contributors is Nicklas Backstrom. Sunday, Expressen’s Magnus Nystrom released a long feature on the aforementioned Backstrom, featuring exclusive interviews with the Caps first-line center and his family.
We learn that while Backstrom is stubborn, he’s also becoming even more comfortable as a leader — even with captain Alex Ovechkin.
“[Ovi’s] the guy I’ve yelled at the most,” Backstrom said to Nystrom, explaining the two teammates hold each other to a high standard. “We’ve played together every year I’ve been here, often on the same line and I’m the guy he’s yelled most at too. We’ve had real arguments on the bench where we have stood and barked at each other.”
Backstrom also shares his thoughts on his nightmare in Sochi, fighting his older brother in games, and his daughter Hayley.
“[She] is the best thing that happened to my life,” Backstrom said.
Magnus Cadelin has your translation.
Russian Machine Never Breaks is not associated with the Washington Capitals; Monumental Sports, the NHL, or its properties. Not even a little bit.
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