Backstrom started off the season on the wrong line. Oates wanted to hide Backstrom from the other teams top lines, believing he could create opportunities on the 2nd line against 2nd-tier defenses. When the Caps emerged from that horrid start of the season to rattle off win after win, one of the major reasons was because Backstrom moved from the 2nd to the first line, being the puck-giver to Ovie and Mojo. If Oates learned one thing quickly, it’s that you should never separate Backstrom from his
But the playoffs were a whole different monster. Backstrom only tallied two assists and a goal, and the top line seemed to be non-existent the whole series. Backstrom has not been that great of a playoff performer, and that absolutely has to change if they are to be successful in the future. In 57 career playoff games, Backstrom only has 43 points. When you compare those numbers to his 413 games played and 415 points, Backstrom has to be a point per game player in the playoffs. He is arguably the most valuable member of the team. Because of his role of “Saint Nick: The Giver of All Things Puck,” if he is not producing, than who else are guys like Ovie going to rely on to find them the puck?
Backstrom just has to figure out how to perform in the playoffs, and if he does, the Caps might be playing hockey in June.
Grade: B+ for regular season, C for playoffs