Capitals center Nicklas Backstrom is among a handful of Washington players who haven’t produced up to their typical levels yet this season. Through 16 games, he has 13 points but that’s still off his usual 70-point (or greater) pace. As Isabelle Khurshudyan of the Washington Post points out, the team has been deploying Backstrom in more of a defensive role in the early going and while he is more than capable of being a strong defender, the usage has taken away some of his offensive opportunities. Head coach Barry Trotz acknowledged that he will try to use Backstrom in more of an attacking role when Washington is at home when they will have more control over the line matchups.
More from the Metropolitan:
- Although the Islanders didn’t provide a timeline for how long winger Nikolai Kulemin will miss when they placed him on injured reserve on Wednesday, Newsday’s Arthur Staple reports that the veteran will be out for weeks or months. The 31-year-old wasn’t off to the best of starts to begin with as he had just a goal and two assists in 13 contests and if he’s going to be out for the longer-term as a result of this upper-body issue, he’s not going to be entering the free agent market next summer with much bargaining power.
- Flyers defenseman Andrew MacDonald is expected to resume skating sometime next week as he continues to recover from a lower-body injury, notes Dave Isaac of the Courier-Post. He has been out of the lineup since October 22nd and he was originally expected to miss four-to-six weeks so it appears that his recovery is right on schedule. Although his contract ($5.5MM through 2019-20) is a burden on Philadelphia’s salary cap, the veteran has still played a fairly important role in the early going, averaging nearly 20 minutes of ice time per night.
- Rangers center Boo Nieves will return to the lineup today after missing the last three games with a stomach virus, Brett Cyrgalis of the New York Post reports. The youngster has made a good impression since being recalled on October 24th as he has a trio of assists in four games while logging a regular shift on New York’s fourth line.