When Caps center Nicklas Bäckström was elbowed in the face by then-Calgary Flames forward Rene Bourque on January 3, it was clear right away that the news on the injury would not be good. While the Swede did return and practiced the following morning, the mood around the Caps' statements about him was ominous, and it wasn't surprising when it was announced that the team's leading scorer would be out indefinitely with a concussion.
With the hernia surgery keeping Mike Green out of action and the suspension to Alex Ovechkin, the loss of Bäckström has become all the more painful for the Caps. The team is missing is arguably missing its three most important players, something that spells bad news for the Caps.
Bäckström, despite being in the league's top-10 point-scorers at the time of his injury, was not named among the players who would participate in the NHL All-Star game, sparking debate that the forward would be out until at least after the break. That break is now upon us, and obviously the hope among the fanbase is that Bäckström will be ready to return to action when the Caps next play on January 31 against the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Bäckström skated for the first time since the injury on Monday, and Caps General Manager George McPhee certainly sounds optimistic about where the Swede is in his progress: “Nick’s doing really well. I’m I guess happy to report he’s progressing."
While Bäckström is highly unlikely to return to the Caps against the 'Bolts, there is a good chance he returns to practice with the team next week. Caps fans should take comfort in the fact that this injury is no Sidney Crosby-level concussion. Bäckström will be back soon.
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