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Expect Backstrom in Caps' lineup for Game 1

By Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

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Expect Backstrom in Caps' lineup for Game 1
Despite missing a skate from illness Tuesday, Nicklas Backstrom says he is ready to go for Game 1 against Montreal Thursday.
ARLINGTON, Va. -- Breathe easy, Capitals' fans, your star center should be healthy and in the lineup Thursday night when the playoffs open at Verizon Center (7 p.m.  ET, VERSUS, TSN).

Nicklas Backstrom, who skipped practice Tuesday because of an illness, was back on the ice at Kettler Capitals Iceplex Wednesday and said he should be just fine for Game 1 against Montreal.

Backstrom finished the regular season with 33 goals and 68 assists playing center on the top line with Alex Ovechkin and, for the most part, Mike Knuble. He has never missed a game in his three-year NHL career (267 straight games, including 21 playoff games).

"I feel better than yesterday and I was able to practice and felt OK," Backstrom said. "(Tuesday) I was sick. I was laying down in bed all day. I don't want to go into details, but I was sick. I'll be fine and I’m excited for (Game 1)."

Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau said that if Backstrom feels good than he's definitely going to play.

"He's not feeling 100 percent, but another day of rest after today's practice getting a good little sweat, I think he'll be fine." -- Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau on Nicklas Backstrom

"He's not feeling 100 percent, but another day of rest after today's practice getting a good little sweat, I think he'll be fine," Boudreau said. "If he's fine he's going to play. If he's sick he's not going to play. As of today I've got to believe he's going to play.'

Backstrom was asked jokingly by an ESPN.com reporter if he was contagious. Playing along, the young Swede told the throng of reporters hovering over him, "If I were you guys I would be standing a little bit further away."

So, Backstrom was in good spirits and he participated in the entire hour-long workout.

Like we said, breathe easy, Caps fans.

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl
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