Capitals Backstrom returning to form
Back in May 2010, the Capitals signed center Nicklas Backstrom to a 10-year, $67 million contract extension, the following season, he posted a career-low 65 points.
Not only did he flop in the regular season after posting 101 points the previous year, he flopped even harder in nine games in the postseason, with just two assists for the underachieving Caps.
His performance had pundits quietly wondering about the massive extension he signed, and whether he would live up to its billing.
Then the calendar turned to the 2011-2012 season, where the Gavle, Sweden, native has lit up opposing defenses for 18 points in 12 games (5G, 13 A). The 23-year-old has long been known for his vision and passing, but was able to put the puck in the net enough to keep defenses honest.
Last year he became too passive with the puck, often differing to his linemates. But this year he is second on the Caps in total shots with 34, trailing who else, but Alexander Ovechkin. The result early on has been a 14.7 shot percentage, just off the 14.9 when two years ago when he netted 33 goals. This is huge because he managed just an 8.9 % last season while scoring the least amount of goals since his first full-season in the league in '07-'08.
When Backstrom is on, he centers the Caps' top line and powerplay unit. His play is essential in keeping the puck on the tape of Ovechkin and the other Caps snipers like Alexander Semin. When Backstrom is feeding them the puck and creating plays, the Caps are unstoppable on offense, case in point being their 9-3 record so far with # 19 playing at a high level. The Caps trail only the high-powered Flyers in goals per game at 3.92 a game.
Backstrom is carrying the Caps offensively early on, just ask the Ducks, who saw him send the game to overtime with a game-tying goal and then win it just minutes later.
Despite the silky Swede's early-season success, he as well as anyone knows that himself, as well as the whole Caps team, will be judged upon what he does come springtime, when the games really count. In the postseason.
Backstrom and the Caps host the surprising Dallas Stars on Tuesday night in a cross-conference clash of early season powers.