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Capitals' Backstrom not targeting specific return date

by Dan Rosen

TORONTO -- Washington Capitals center Nicklas Backstrom remains uncertain about his availability for opening night against the New Jersey Devils on Oct. 10 after having arthroscopic surgery on his left hip on May 27.

Backstrom said the original timetable doctors gave him for a return to play was 4-6 months from the date of surgery. He started skating in mid-August and said he feels good, but he's not ready to commit to playing opening night.

"I'm not targeting anything. I'm keeping everything open," Backstrom said at the NHL's Player Media Tour on Tuesday. "It feels pretty good. I started skating, and it feels good and it's progressing, but at the same time you should be careful about these injuries, I think, and not push it too hard. We have no rush. We'll see how it goes the next couple weeks. I wish I could tell you exactly what date, but I can't."

Backstrom said he isn't frustrated at this point because he expected to still be on the mend by the time training camp opens. The Capitals open camp Sept. 17 and play their first preseason game Sept. 21.

"It's all about getting the signals back, the muscles back," Backstrom said. "That's what I'm looking for now, to feel 100 percent, to be comfortable with all the movement. I'm feeling pretty good, actually. But I don't know yet. I expected this."

Backstrom appeared in all 96 games the Capitals played last season, including 14 in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. He led the NHL with 60 assists during the regular season and was sixth in points with 78. He had eight points in the playoffs.


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