As the Washington Capitals prepare to take on the Pittsburgh Penguins at PPG Paints Arena in Pittsburgh for Game 6 of the rivals’ second round playoff series, they do so without knowing the status of one of their best players, forward Nicklas Backstrom.
Both Backstrom and defenseman John Carlson were considered questionable for tonight’s critical game, following separate injuries to the pair in Saturday’s HUGE Game 5 victory. Carlson, who received a hard hit to the head from Penguins forward Jake Guentzel late in Game 5, has been ruled good to go by head coach Barry Trotz.
In case you missed it, Carlson was rocked by what Trotz described as an “unsuspecting, high hit” from Penguins forward Guentzel in the final minute of Game 5.
Despite protestations from Trotz himself, NHL Player Safety announced that they would NOT be reviewing the hit for supplemental discipline.
This shouldn’t come as a surprise, but Guentzel won’t have a hearing for his hit on Carlson, which Trotz took exception to. It was considered a full-body hit.
Regardless, Trotz has confirmed Carlson will play tonight. Which is good news for a Capitals team that desperately relies on Carlson's offensive production from the back end. The 28 year old blue liner currently has a remarkable 11 points in 11 postseason games, following a career high 15 goal, 68 point regular season.
As for Backstrom, Trotz would only confirm that he’ll “see where he is on Monday.” Backstrom left Saturday’s game with an undisclosed upper body injury after playing just a handful of shifts in the third period.
Trotz said he expects Backstrom to play tomorrow. But also said “we’ll see where he is tomorrow.” Carlson is “fine,” Trotz said. Burakovsky is not traveling to Pittsburgh, so he’s still out.
Interesting. We’ll continue to monitor this situation and will update you when we receive official word from the team regarding Backstrom’s status for tonight’s game. Just like Carlson, the Caps could surely use a healthy Backstrom in the lineup tonight. The 30 year old center has three goals and 13 points in 11 playoff games so far this season, following another stellar 21 goal and 71 point regular season.