Updated 12:22 p.m.: Although Nicklas Backstrom is making the trip to Boston with the Capitals, the center will not suit up for Thursday’s game.
“No. Not tomorrow,” Backstrom said. “We’ll see. We take it day-by-day and see how it goes.”
Backstrom has missed 39 games with a concussion but over the past five days he has been cleared to take part in regular practices without any limitations and passed a neuropsychological test that was a mandatory step on his being able to return to the lineup.
Even with that progress and the importance of each remaining regular season game for the Capitals, Backstromsaid he’s not in game shape.
“Well, I’m close. I’m close to playing, I think,” Backstrom said. “Obviously it takes a while to get back in normal shape. But we don’t have too much time, either. I’m feeling good, I’ve been practicing good the last couple days; been pushing it a little bit, too.”
Backstrom was one of four players, none of whom took part in the ugly 5-1 loss to the Sabres, on the ice for an optional skate Wednesday. It marked the 15th time in the past 16 days he’s been on the ice and this roughly hour-long workout saw Backstrom contend in battle drills, fighting through checks along the boards to gain control of the puck.
Coach Dale Hunter said the team wants Backstrom to travel in order to continue with those rigorous practices, but that the 24-year-old center will not face the defending Stanley Cup champion Bruins on Thursday.
“No. He’s not going to play tomorrow. We just want him with the team so he can practice,” Hunter said. “You see the drills that they’re doing with him -- all battle drills that if he gets in, that’s how he has to play. They’re hard drills out there and every day he’s been fine so it’s good news for him.”