With the Washington Capitals locked in a tough playoff race, Caps Nation has been gripped by exciting behind-the-scenes news.
Star center Nicklas Bäckström, who has been out of the lineup since suffering a concussion on a hit to the head by Calgary Flames forward Rene Bourque on Jan. 3, is nearing a return to the lineup.
Bäckström has, over the past few seasons, established himself as arguably the team's most important offensive catalyst. Since the team drafted him with the fourth-overall pick in 2006, the Swedish forward has appeared in 361 games, scoring 100 goals and 265 assists for 365 points, along with a plus-minus ratio of plus-88.
When Bäckström suffered his injury, the Caps were also locked in a playoff battle, but held a 6-3-1 record in their last 10 games and were rapidly improving. Bäckström alone had two goals and eight assists in his last seven games.
Since then, the Caps have gone 19-16-6 and have noticeably gotten worse as a team.
When Bäckström began skating on March 11, there was sudden hope that he might be able to return for the playoffs.
There is no doubt Bäckström's return will give a huge boost to his team. With four games remaining in the season, the Capitals likely need to win all four if they want to guarantee a postseason berth.
While Bäckström won't be able to do it on his own, the Caps' playoff dreams look a whole lot brighter with Bäckström in the lineup than without him.
Follow Jake Ware on Twitter at @JacobWare95.
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