Nicklas Backstrom was back on the ice Thursday morning for Capitals practice and participated in every drill, zipping around the ice with no apparent hesitation less than 48 hours after he was elbowed in the jaw.
The 24-year-old center will join the team this afternoon as it departs for a five-day, two-game road trip to San Jose and Los Angeles and by all indications Backstrom is doing well.
“I’m doing all the steps that has to be made before I can play. I felt pretty good out there,” Backstrom said. “You’ve got to push yourself to know exactly where you are but I had the history of migraines before too, it’s kind of hard to tell. Whatever it is, it seems to be fine.”
Backstrom underwent concussion testing on Wednesday but the results were inconclusive. That Backstrom took part in the entire workout and felt good throughout and has been cleared to travel with the team are all positive signs that he may have avoided serious injury.
“By practicing and doing the whole practice with his line,” Coach Dale Hunter said, “yeah, it’s better than we thought, which is good for us.”
That said, the Capitals will continue to play it safe with Backstrom’s health, evaluating and monitoring his progress before determining whether he will play on Saturday night against the Sharks.
Backstrom, who is Washington’s leading scorer (42 points) and most consistent player this year, said he knew Calgary’s Rene Bourque was near him in the neutral zone when he passed the puck to Mike Knuble. But that he didn’t think Bourque, who received a five-game suspension for the elbow, would hit him.
“I felt all right after the hit and then a couple minutes later, then it was really bad and I had to leave the game but that happens,” said Backstrom, who added that his “whole head” hurt and that the symptoms were similar to those he experienced with the migraine headaches he has dealt with in the past.
“Yeah, pretty much the same symptoms [as the migraines], stuff like that,” Backstrom said. “But for being on the safe side we’re doing all the tests. We’ve just got to make sure it’s 100 percent.”
— Alexander Semin skated for a second consecutive day and will make the trip to California. Semin, who missed Tuesday’s game with neck pain, is listed as day to day by the team.
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— Backstrom practices with Capitals Thursday
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— Backstrom tested for concussion, results still unclear