TAMPA—Nicklas Backstrom joined his teammates for the morning skate Sunday, marking the first time the star center participated in a team setting since getting hurt in the previous round.
Coach Barry Trotz said afterward that Backstrom will be a game-time decision for Game 2 at Amalie Arena.
Backstrom is getting in some reps but doesn’t seem to be going 100-percent. This is his first time in a team setting since getting hurt in Game 5 last round. He’s missed the last two games. #Caps #CapsBolts pic.twitter.com/zVuMMZfI1U— Tarik El-Bashir (@Tarik_ElBashir) May 13, 2018
Backstrom, the team’s best two-way forward, has been sidelined by an upper-body injury that he suffered in Game 5 vs. Pittsburgh. He has skated on his own at least once previously and has been working out off the ice for the past week.
Sunday morning, though, represented a breakthrough of sorts, even if he did not appear to be at 100-percent.
Backstrom sported a full-contact red jersey, but he was not included in the line rushes. Instead, he rotated in.
Backstrom also stayed on the ice after the skate for some additional skills and skating, but he headed to the dressing room prior to the grueling conditioning skate that’s typically reserved for the extras.
Assuming Backstrom does not suit up, the forward combos figure to be the same as Game 1’s.
Backstrom did not speak to reporters after the skate and Trotz didn’t offer much in the way of an update.
“Yes, every day has been,” Trots responded, asked if Sunday morning represented a good step for Backstrom. “But he’s a game-time decision, for your info. Which is the next question, I know.”
The next indication of Backstrom’s status will come Sunday night, about a half hour prior to warmups.
“He’s our key player,” captain Alex Ovechkin said. “We’ll see how it’s going to happen, if he’s going to play tonight or not. Obviously, everybody knows what he means to this organization and to this club. It would be nice.”