The Washington Capitals best center and one of the best set-up men in the NHL will make his debut in this season’s Eastern Conference Final on Thursday.
After taking the morning skate, getting rotated in on line rushes and working with the top power-play unit, Nicklas Backstrom will make his return to the Capitals lineup after a two-week layoff with a hand injury he sustained in Game 5 of second round against the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Backstrom’s return comes at just the right time as the Capitals look to bounce back from a Game 3 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning and earn a split at home. The Capitals lead the best-of-7 series 2-1.
It appears Alex Chiasson will make way for Backstrom’s return.
Backstrom’s usage will be front and center in the game.
He didn’t skate with his familiar second line during line rushes and could get someone else to take faceoffs as to not put his hand through any more stress than it needs to, per the Washington Post.
Even without Backstrom in the dot, his return is only slightly less of a boost than it already was.
Backstrom and Alex Ovechkin together again on the power play could spell disaster for the Lightning if they’re undisciplined in the game. And Backstrom’s overall vision and passing skills, even at less than 100 percent, are elite.