Washington Capitals center Nicklas Backstrom will not return to Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs against the New York Islanders, the team announced.
The specifics of Backstrom's injury are unknown, but the center did take a big hit from Islanders winger Anders Lee in the first period, which led to a scuffle between Lee and Tom Wilson. It is believed that the collision resulted in Backstrom's exit.
For the Capitals, the loss of Backstrom hurts now more than ever. With center Lars Eller still under quarantine after returning to the bubble following the birth of a child, the depth at the position is low for Washington. Eller is expected to be back for Game 2 on Friday, but the Capitals must first find a way to fill the hole for the rest of Wednesday.
Travis Boyd will likely be asked to take on a larger role in the absence of Backstrom and Eller.
This is not the first time the Capitals will be without Backstrom for a postseason matchup. The veteran missed time during the Capitals 2018 Stanley Cup run as he was absent for Game 6 against the Pittsburgh Penguins and multiple games against the Tampa Bay Lightning due to a hand injury, but things turned out okay for Washington there.
The team will now hope for more of the same in 2020, and an early lead thanks to T.J. Oshie makes things a little easier at least for Game 1. However, if the Capitals want to make another run at the Cup, they'll need Backstrom's production and him back in the lineup soon.
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