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Capitals breakdown: Nicklas Backstrom


Capitals breakdown: Nicklas Backstrom Capitals Insider Chuck Gormley will evaluate the 2011-12 performance of each player on the Caps roster. One breakdown will occur every weekday in alphabetical order. Today: Nicklas BackstromNicklas Backstrom
Position: Center
Age: 24
HtWt: 6-1, 213
Games: 42
Goals: 14
Assists: 30
Points: 44
Penalty Minutes: 24
Plus-Minus: Minus-4
Average Ice Time: 19:09
Contract Status: 8 years remaining on 10-year, 67 million contract 6.7 million cap hit

Strengths: One of the NHLs most gifted offensive players, Backstrom showed he could create offense while playing in a defensive system. He was on pace for 28 goals, 63 assists and 91 points when he suffered a concussion that sidelined him for 40 games from Jan. 4 through March 28. Backstrom seemed to get stronger as the playoffs progressed, but it was clear that his lengthy layoff sapped him of some of his strength.

Weaknesses: Any time a 24-year-old star player suffers a serious concussion there are concerns about the potential for future head injuries. Backstrom admitted being tentative when he returned to the lineup and the fact he made it through the playoffs without any symptoms was a huge step in his recovery. Backstrom will need to spend the summer gaining back the strength he lost while remaining inactive for the better part of three months.

Memorable Moment on the ice: On the same Jan. 3 night he enjoyed a season-high three assists, Backstrom was elbowed in the chin by then-Calgary Flames forward Rene Bourque, putting him on the shelf for the next 40 games.

Memorable Moment off the ice: Following a training camp practice at Kettler Capitals Iceplex on the morning of Sept. 17, Backstrom covered his face with a hoodie and smothered teammate Alex Ovechkin with a towel full of shaving cream in honor of Ovechkins 26th birthday.

2012-13 Expectations: With a full summer of conditioning under his belt, Backstrom should arrive in training camp in top shape and there is no reason he shouldnt be among the top 10 in NHL scoring next season, challenging Evgeni Malkin and Claude Giroux for a scoring title.

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NHL Power Rankings: A rough week


NHL Power Rankings: A rough week

The Caps are coming off of one of, if not the worst week of their season. Washington has now lost three of four games and all three of those losses came in devastating fashion.

On Feb. 11, the Caps hosted a scuffling Detroit Red Wings team and saw the Wings build a 4-1 lead in the second period, a period in which the Caps were outshot 17-2. Washington battled back to tie the game, but ultimately lost in overtime. Tuesday in Winnipeg the Caps held a 3-1 lead in the third period, but allowed the Jets to mount a comeback and tie the game with just 15 seconds remaining in regulation before losing in overtime. Then, of course, there was Saturday's 7-1 blowout at the hands of the Chicago Blackhawks, a team that had lost eight straight coming into that game.


To make matters worse, the Pittsburgh Penguins keep on winning and now hold a one-point lead over Washington. So yeah, things were not great.

The bad news is that, with the recent surges of Pittsburgh, Philadelphia and even New Jersey, the Caps have to figure things out fast or they could continue to fall in the standings fairly quickly.

The good news is that they still remain in a relatively good position should they rebound. The Penguins do hold a one-point lead in the standings, but the Caps remain very much in the driver's seat of the division with three games in hand.

Four games separate Washington from the Feb. 26 trade deadline. The Caps will play in Buffalo, host Tampa Bay, play in Florida and host Buffalo. Winning three of those four games, especially if they can beat the dominant Lightning, will go a long way towards putting last week in the rearview mirror. Another tough week, however, could force the hand of general manager Brian MacLellan to make an unanticipated move at the trade deadline in order to keep a playoff season from falling apart.

After a week like that, it's no surprise to see Washington fall in this week's NHL Power Rankings. You can see the full rankings here.

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Game 59: Capitals at Sabres Date, Time, How to Watch, Game Thread


Game 59: Capitals at Sabres Date, Time, How to Watch, Game Thread

What: Washington Capitals vs. Buffalo Sabres

Where: KeyBank Center, Buffalo, N.Y.

When: 3:00 p.m. ET

How to Watch: Capitals-Sabres will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington (Channel Finder)

Live Stream: You can watch the Capitals-Sabres game on NBC Sports Washington's live stream page.

You can also stream the game online with no cable TV subscription on fuboTV (try for free!).


The Capitals (33-18-7) take on the Sabres (17-31-11) Monday, February 19 at 3:00 p.m. ET in Buffalo.


The Capitals-Sabres game will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington. Coverage kicks off with Capitals FaceOff at 2:00 p.m. followed by Caps GameTime at 2:30 p.m. Stay with NBC Sports Washington for Caps Extra following the game, Caps Overtime at 6:00 p.m. and Caps in 30 at 7:00 p.m. for all your postgame coverage. (NBC Sports Washington channel Finder)

2:00 p.m. — Caps FaceOff
2:30 p.m. — Caps GameTime
3:00 p.m. — Capitals at Sabres
5:30 p.m. — Caps Extra
6:00 p.m. — Caps Overtime
7:00 p.m. — Caps in 30


Here are the projected lines for the Caps-Sabres game:

Alex Ovechkin - Nicklas Backstrom - Tom Wilson
Jakub Vrana - Evgeny Kuznetsov - T.J. Oshie
Brett Connolly - Lars Eller - Andre Burakovsky
Chandler Stephenson - Jay Beagle - Devante Smith-Pelly

Christian Djoos - John Carlson
Dmitry Orlov - Matt Niskanen
Brooks Orpik - Madison Bowey

Philipp Grubauer starts with Braden Holtby as backup

Scratches: Alex Chiasson, Taylor Chorney


The Capitals-Sabres game, as well as Caps GameTime and Caps Extra, is available to stream live here through NBC Sports Washington's live stream page and is available to authenticated NBC Sports Washington subscribers on desktops, tablets, mobile devices and connected TVs anywhere in the United States.

The game is also available to stream, along with all the pregame and postgame shows, on fuboTV (try for free).


Use the comment section below to discuss the game action with other Capitals fans. 

For all the latest Caps coverage, follow Capitals Insider Tarik El-Bashir, Capitals correspondent JJ Regan and the NBC Sports Capitals account on Twitter. Be sure check out our Capitals page and NBC Sports Washington's Facebook page.