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Breaking: Major update regarding Backstrom for Game 2 tonight in Tampa

In or out? Come on, Nicky!

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According to a report from the Washington Post’s Isabelle Khurshudyan, it looks like injured Washington Capitals forward Nicklas Backstrom will be good to go tonight for Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Nicklas Backstrom will be on the ice for morning skate. He’s wearing a red jersey, which means power play. Looks like he could be back tonight.

Backstrom, of course, has been sidelined since Game 6 of the Capital’s previous playoff series against the rival Pittsburgh Penguins, where it’s believed that he suffered a hand injury. Officially Backstrom is out of the lineup with an “upper body injury”. 

Obviously if Backstrom is able to return to the Caps’ lineup tonight, he’ll provide a huge boost. The 30 year old Swedish center has been much maligned as a playoff under-performer during the team’s postseason struggles, but has exploded for three goals and 13 points in 11 games so far this postseason. Ironically, Backstrom has put up better point production while playing a secondary role on the team. For years Backstrom has been the set up man for captain Alex Ovechkin, but now that spot belongs to Evgeny Kuznetsov, who has taken over as the team’s number one center. Backstrom has centered a line mostly with wingers T.J. Oshie and Jakub Vrana.

UPDATE:

Khurshudyan is now reporting that Backstrom seems UNLIKELY to play tonight in Tampa:

Backstrom isn’t taking rushes. Seems he won’t play tonight. He’s on the ice doing some stickhandling though.

Ouch… that’s gotta hurt for Caps fans. You have to expect that the Lightning will have a MUCH stronger push tonight in Game 2. The regular season Eastern Conference champion Lightning looked slow and sluggish in Game 1, allowing the Caps to dictate the pace of play almost the entire evening. Which, of course, the Capitals were happy to do. 

If in fact Backstrom is ruled out for tonight’s game, it’s expected that center Lars Eller will take his spot between Oshie and Vrana.  Not a bad line to be sure… but Backstrom’s absence certainly hurts the team’s depth:

Caps AM skate lines are the same: 
Ovechkin-Kuznetsov-WilsonVrana-Eller-Oshie
Burakovsky-Stephenson-ConnollyDSP-Beagle-Chiasson
Kempny-CarlsonOrlov-Niskanen
Orpik-Djoos
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