Nicklas Backstrom is a passer first by nature. That’s been his role with the Washington Capitals ever since the 2007-08 season, when he exploded onto the scene with 14 goals and 55 assists during his rookie year. Of his 457 career points, 339 of them have been helpers.
So it’s easy to forget that the guy has a rocket for a shot and possesses the ability to pick corners if he sees them. Especially when he’s firing pucks alongside Alex Ovechkin on the power play. Backstrom reminded the Anaheim Ducks of his great shot last night though, as he launched the puck from the wall and notched his ninth goal on the year.
Saku Koivu was in the box for hooking, and after Backstrom realized that all of his usual passing lanes were closed off, he stepped up to the circle and fired one home.
The 26-year-old center is quietly having an outstanding year for the Capitals. He’s fourth in the NHL with 42 points, and has more assists than anyone not named Sidney Crosby or Joe Thornton. Pretty good company. He’d fallen off a bit during the 2011-12 season and struggled to stay healthy a year later, so it’s outstanding to see him at the top of his game again.
Backstrom is on pace for 93 points, which will be the second-highest total of his career by far.