Over the last few years, Nicklas Backstrom’s received the kind of accolades most Swedish players can only dream of.
He’s been tagged as the best young Tre Kronor in the NHL and, in 2009, won the prestigious Viking Award, given annually to the best Swedish player in North America.
But now that he’s in the midst of Washington’s compelling playoff run, he’s receiving arguably the highest honor a Swedish hockey player can get:
Comparisons to Peter Forsberg.
“I know that Nicky likes playing like Forsberg and he likes that style,” Troy Brouwer told CSN Washington. “He’s a big boy and a strong kid so he can create a lot of space for himself.”
It was this play in particular — during Saturday’s 3-2 win over the Rangers — that Backstrom’s teammates making Foppa remarks:
The art of hitting the opponent before the opponent hits you is classically Forsbergian, something Caps forward Jason Chimera noted.
“I think [Backstrom] took a page out of Forsberg’s book,” Chimera said. “Usually, guys don’t expect to get hit when they’re trying to hit a guy with the puck.
“He’s done that a lot. That’s why we don’t go after him at practice.”
If there’s one guy that knows first-hand what it’s like to face Forsberg, it’s Caps head coach Dale Hunter. The pair played against each other and were teammates in Hunter’s final season (he was traded to Colorado at the 1999 trade deadline and helped the Avs get to the Western Conference final.)
Hunter says he sees the similarities between Backstrom and Forsberg.
“He’s strong on his feet and he’s got great balance,” Hunter said. “Forsberg did it a few times to me, so I’d go in very slowly against him.”