Caps fans know how important Nicklas Backstrom is to the team. For the last eight years, the Swedish center has set his teammates up for big goals (he is the cheese to Alex Ovechkin’s macaroni), yet he rarely gets the credit he deserves. Backstrom has never been selected for the NHL All-Star game, he was snubbed from’s list of top-14 centers, and his virtual self isn’t even ranked as a top-10 center in EA Sport’s NHL16. Backstrom seems to fly under the radar.

In September, Yahoo Sports conducted a poll of 27 NHL players on a variety of topics. One of those topics: “Who is the Most Underrated Player in the NHL?” (Note: players could not vote for their own teammates.)

Leading the vote with 15 percent of responses? Nicklas Backstrom.

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Saturday night, Nicklas Backstrom returned from offseason hip surgery after missing three regular season games. He didn’t miss a beat. Nicky had a goal and two assists in the Capitals’ 4-1 win over Carolina. It was almost odd how seamlessly he jumped back into the lineup.

After the game, CSN Washington’s Al Koken asked Backstrom what his secret was.

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Photo credit: Rob Carr

After three long games, Nicklas Backstrom will return to the lineup after his hip surgery in late may. Last year’s NHL leader in assists will play on the second line alongside Marcus Johansson and Justin Williams. He was cleared for contact by his doctor on Monday.

“We actually decided this a couple of days ago,” Backstrom said Saturday. “I’ve been feeling good and no setbacks. I feel like I’ve been trying my best to get back as fast as possible with no rush. It’s been working out well. Hopefully, it’s gonna be a good one tonight.” Continue Reading


After rejoining his teammates on the ice at the end of last month, Nicklas Backstrom continues to progress in his recovery from offseason hip surgery. On Wednesday, he took part in a full practice for the first time this season after being cleared for contact by his doctor on Monday afternoon. His return appears to be on the horizon.

“It’s probably gonna be day-to-day,” head coach Barry Trotz said when asked what Backstrom’s status was. “Obviously when a guy gets cleared it falls into a shorter time period. It also depends on how he feels once we bump him around a little bit and check him up.”

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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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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, Backstrom gushed about Öhgren’s work with him.

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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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