A day after Nicklas Backstrom was forced to leave a game early when he was elbowed in the jaw by Calgary’s Rene Bourque, not much is certain about the top center’s health.
Backstrom has undergone concussion testing but the results were inconclusive, according to tweets from his brother Kristoffer, and will continue to be evaluated by team doctors in the coming days but it’s unclear what the after effects of the hit will be. Backstrom also has a history of migraine headaches, and it’s possible that could play a role in this situation.
A few things are certain, though. One that Backstrom’s teammates weren’t happy with the elbow, which could lead to a suspension for Boruque, and that if Backstrom is forced to miss time he will leave a void on the roster not easily filled.
Alex Ovechkin said he questioned the referees during the game when they only gave Bourque a minor penalty for roughing.
“It was head shot. It was kind of on purpose,” Ovechkin said. “I tell the referee, ‘He goes like straight in the face with an elbow. So why give him only two minutes?’ He just said Nicky was fine and he keep playing. So, I don’t know. We’ll see how it goes.”
Bourque took three shifts after elbowing Backstrom in the head, but the Calgary tough guy didn’t receive much in the way of retribution from the Capitals. Part of the reason may have played into the fact that Washington led the game 3-1 at the time and the players didn’t want to give their opponents momentum. Backstrom also returned to the ice for the start of the power play and two more shifts after the hit.
“If I had got a chance to get on the ice I would have said something to [Bourque],” said John Erskine, who only took four shifts in the contest and did not play in the final 16:28 of the game. “It’s a tough call, you want to do something but you don’t want to get sucked in and take a penalty because right now every two points is huge for us.”
Backstrom took part in an off-ice workout with his teammates on Wednesday and both Ovechkin and Marcus Johansson said they thought the 24-year-old was doing well and was in good spirits.
Backstrom recorded three assists in the contest before the elbow, adding to his team-leading total of 42 points that ranks him tied for eighth among the NHL’s leading scorers.
“He’s probably been, with a team that’s been inconsistent he’s been consistent,” Mike Knuble said. “He’s been our most consistent player and plays in any situation and he’s very valuable to us. I don’t know if he’s going to miss time or whatever but it’s a big hole if he does.”
Said Karl Alzner: “I think he’s probably our, I shouldn’t say most valuable, but one of the top two or three guys on this team. He can do everything and the guys love having him out there. He’s so dangerous and he can not only score but he can set up a lot of guys. Any time with Nicky out of the lineup is not a good time.”
More from Post Sports:
— Backstrom tested for concussion, results still unclear
— Bourque faces disciplinary hearing after elbowing Backstrom
— Backstrom elbowed in the head by Calgary’s Bourque
— Ovechkin scores again as Capitals beat Flames, 3-1
— Mike Green critical of first game back since injury
— Ovechkin says he didn’t spit in Dorsett’s face Saturday