Nicklas Backstrom hosted the Capitals Super Bowl party at his home on Sunday.
Other than that, the 24-year-old star center has been a relative outsider for the Capitals since taking an elbow to the jaw from Rene Bourque on Jan. 3.
The Caps are 7-6-2 since Backstrom left the lineup and are crossing their fingers that hes getting closer to joining them on the ice.
There are still 29 games to go, so we know theres time, Capitals right wing Mike Knuble told CSNwashington.com on Wednesday.
Hes coming to the rink more, so thats a good sign. He seems to be in good spirits, and I imagine thats a hurdle in itself, just being happy throughout the day. We see him in the morning, but I dont know if he tires in the afternoon.
Knuble said hes not familiar with Backstroms daily routine, other than that hes been coming to Kettler Capitals Iceplex more often.
I dont know if he just comes in and says he feels 1 percent better and they say, OK, see you tomorrow, then, Knuble said.
Two weeks ago, Capitals general manager George McPhee said the club was taking a cautious approach with Backstrom because he did not want to see the Swedish center ever to have to suffer through concussion symptoms again.
Knuble said that makes a lot of sense, considering Backstrom is in the second year of a 10-year, 67 million contract.
Youre talking about 10 years here, Knuble said. They have to protect their assets. His safety and his longevity are the biggest things. I think the Sidney Crosby thing scared a lot of franchises into protecting their assets and not rushing their players back too soon.
Weve seen concussion symptoms go on and on if its not 100 percent before a guy comes back. As teammates, I think everybodys humbled by these concussions. We think were tough and we can play through a lot, but these concussions are bringing all types of players down. Nicky wants to play; nobody doubts that.
The Caps have played just nine games this season with both Backstrom and Green in the lineup. They are 9-0 in those games and 19-21-4 when one or both is not in the lineup. So how does that weigh into McPhees decision-making process leading up to the Feb. 27 trade deadine?
They are better than any trade you can get on the market, Knuble said. Thats 15 million in salary. Its hard to replace guys like that. They are better than any deadline deal you can get.
Knuble said its hard for McPhee or anyone else to get an accurate read on what the Capitals can do this season, let alone what improvements need to be made before the deadline.
Weve never had our full team this year, he said. Its hard to say what you do when you dont even know what you have.