The Washington Post

Capitals eager to have Backstrom on power play again

While Nicklas Backstrom’s return should help the Capitals in any number of ways, where his presence will likely have a rapid impact is on the power play.

In the 40 games Backstrom has missed because of a concussion, Washington has gone 15 for 102 on the man-advantage — a less-than-stellar 14.7 percent.

While it’s tough to say the decline was due exclusively to Backstrom’s absence, without him in the mix, the Capitals were without their best passer on the half-board wall. Washington auditioned any number of candidates in that spot, but none could see the ice or make the sublime set-up plays the way the 24-year-old Swede can.

“Most of our power play, in the past four, five years has worked off Nick,” Brooks Laich said. “He’s the control man on the half wall. Everything sort of goes through him. He’s a great passer, he sees the ice really well and that’s been one of the main areas that we’ve missed him.”

It’s probably safe to guess that if the Capitals do receive power play chances tonight against Montreal, Backstrom will be out with one of the groups in his usual spot.

“He’s a natural on the half-board, he sees the ice well,” Coach Dale Hunter said. “You see him working today, he’s got one of those gifts where he doesn’t have to look at the guy to pass it- he just knows where he is.”

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