After a second straight day of practice, Nicklas Backstrom maintains that he is feeling good and that he believes he will be ready to face the Sharks here Saturday. That decision ultimately rests with the Washington Capitals’ athletic training staff, but for the time being, Backstrom appears ready to be in the lineup against San Jose.
“I feel pretty good actually,” Backstrom said. “I think I’m ready to go, that’s my thoughts.”
Coach Dale Hunter acknowledged that things are pointing to the No. 1 center being ready to take on the Sharks, but maintained that Backstrom will continue to be monitored.
“It’s looking good [for Saturday] but we’re still evaluating,” Hunter said. “He looks good.”
Backstrom took an elbow to the head from Calgary’s Rene Bourque in the third period Tuesday night and was forced to leave that contest with 3 minutes and 19 seconds remaining in regulation.
The Capitals have evaluated Backstrom, whose history of migraine headaches could play a role in this situation, closely since then and the results of initial concussion tests were inconclusive. Each day that passes with Backstrom able to take part in practice and feel well is a positive sign that the extent of the injury he suffered on the play was not as severe as it could have possibly been.
“I think I don’t have anything but it’s up to the doctors to tell us,” Backstrom said.
●Hunter said that Alexander Semin, who missed the game against the Flames because of what an NHL source described as neck pain, is “ready to go now” when asked if the Russian winger would be in the lineup against the Sharks.
●On a different note, Backstrom and Marcus Johansson were quietly celebrating Sweden’s world junior championship victory, a 1-0 overtime win over Russia. A bottle of wine was on the line, but the wager was nothing like that between Alex Ovechkin and Karl Alzner, in which the loser had to wear the winning country’s jersey.
“I wanted to keep Ovi out of that jersey,” Backstrom said. “Me and Marcus are happy that Sweden won today; otherwise we’d be hearing from the Russians. I think me and Marcus are a little calmer than them; I think it’s good for the whole team that Sweden won.”