SAN JOSE –
The Washington Capitals
will be without Nicklas Backstrom
, their leading scorer, when they face San Jose on Saturday night at HP Pavilion, coach Dale Hunter
said after his team’s morning skate.
Backstrom was elbowed in the head Tuesday by Calgary’s Rene Bourque
. He practiced with the team on Friday in San Jose but was not on the ice Saturday.
Hunter said Backstrom has not suffered a setback.
“You just got to be careful. He feels good, but you still got to be careful with it,” Hunter said.
Backstrom leads the Capitals with 42 points – 13 goals and 29 assists. He’s tied for ninth in the NHL in points. As tough as it is for the Capitals to play without Backstrom, wing Mike Knuble
said giving him more time to recover is the right move.
“We’ve all seen what happens when you put a guy in too early or if he’s not feeling right,” Knuble said. “It’s just potential for a lot more injury and potential for turning a mole hill into a mountain. Smart. Good idea. It’s January. It’s not like it’s a do-or-die game.”
Based on the Capitals’ line rushes Saturday morning, wing Alexander Semin
will join Knuble on the second line with Marcus Johansson
sliding over to center. Semin was absent Tuesday with an upper-body injury but is ready to return.
Backstrom has points in five straight games – a goal and seven assists. He has 18 power-play points, tied for third most in the NHL.
“It’s never good when you play without one of the best players on your team, but, again, it is what it is,” forward Alex Ovechkin
said. “It’s a great game for different guys to step up and play our way without Nick.”
This is how the lineups could look Saturday night when the San Jose Sharks
face the Washington Capitals
at HP Pavilion:
– Joe Thornton
– Joe Pavelski
– Logan Couture
– Benn Ferriero
– Michal Handzus
– Torrey Mitchell
– Andrew Desjardins
– Tommy Wingels
– Marc-Edouard Vlasic
– Brent Burns
– Justin Braun
– Brooks Laich
– Troy Brouwer
- Marcus Johansson
– Mike Knuble
– Jeff Halpern
– Joel Ward
– Mathieu Perreault
- Jay Beagle
Karl Azner – John Carlson
– Dennis Wideman
– Mike Green