Washington Capitals: Nicklas Backstrom Set To Return to Caps Lineup

Jake WareCorrespondent IIIMarch 30, 2012

WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 29: Nicklas Backstrom #19 of the Washington Capitals warms up before the start of the Capitals game against the St. Louis Blues at Verizon Center on November 29, 2011 in Washington, DC.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Rob Carr/Getty Images

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.

It seems that might well happen, with a timetable being set for either Saturday's game against the Montreal Canadiens or Monday's against the Tampa Bay Lightning as possible return dates. 

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.