Nicklas Backstrom and his finger share a hug with John Carlson. (Mike Carlson/Getty Images)

Look at Nicklas Backstrom’s finger. The index finger on his right hand. Some people call it a “forefinger.” Others call it the “first finger,” or “trigger” finger.” It’s known as “pointer” in the popular children’s song “Where Is Thumbkin?” in which the narrator asks each digit in turn, “How are you today, sir?” and then the digit says, “Very well, I thank you,” and then everyone together sings “run away, run away,” though I can’t say I’m sure what they’re running from.

Well, if I were Backstrom’s so-called “Tall Man,” i.e. the middle finger, I can tell you what I’d be running away from. I’d be running away from ol’ pointer. Because pointer is giant and gross and taking over the entire hand. If this continues, the Caps are going to have to ask for a roster exemption and give that fella his own sweater. Make it take the hot lap. At least give it its own stall.


In a possibly unrelated story, Backstrom exited Game 5 of the Capitals-Penguins second-round series with what the team called an upper-body injury after blocking a shot. Still, one can’t promise that the injury was to any part of Backstrom’s hand, because while the right hand sometimes is a part of the upper body, you can also swing your arms down low, at which point the finger might best be considered a part of the lower body.

Backstrom didn’t play in Game 6 of the Pittsburgh series, and cameras showed his right hand wrapped as he entered the arena. In retrospect, it’s a wonder his finger fit into the wrap, to be honest. Also, his finger being below his waist in this photo, I would definitely think of it as at least a fellow traveler of the lower body.

“He’s working out and getting the therapy he needs,” Coach Barry Trotz said before the Eastern Conference finals.

By this point, The Post was referring to the malady as “an injured right hand,” even as the team still called it an upper-body affair, and the injury wound up keeping Backstrom out of the first three games of the Tampa Bay series. He returned in Game 4 and had a goal and two assists in Washington’s final two wins, a herculean effort made even more impressive by the image of that pointer.

Backstrom’s right hand and forearm were wrapped after his first game back, “his index and middle fingers bandaged together with a gauzy substance running up his forearm,” according to The Post’s Adam Kilgore.

Honestly, you probably already know the history of his injury and are only reading this far for the jokes about how his finger is gamely rocking the red, or how his finger will soon merit its own float in a victory parade, or how his finger is already too big to play mites. Anyhow, before Game 6, Backstrom’s hand was again wrapped.

Careful viewers also noticed that Backstrom went through the handshake line Wednesday night using his left hand instead of his right, and it honestly never occurred to me before that handshake lines consistently discriminate against left-handed people, although I guess they always shake hands with their non-dominant hand anyhow, regardless of how much their index fingers might look like thumbs. Weird.

Not long after the Game 7 win, Backstrom talked to the media wearing a “conference champions” lid, and, as RMNB’s Cara Bahniuk pointed out, he flashed his finger in front of the cameras at least twice. That led to the knowledge that, no matter what injury kept Backstrom out of those games, he has a big finger.

“It’s massively swollen and purple,” Bahniuk noted.

And yet Backstrom and, presumably, his finger, remained extremely happy in the moments after that game. Congratulations to them both.

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