BOSTON - SEPTEMBER 29: Nicklas Backstrom #19 of the Washington Capitals is congratulated by teammtes on the bench after he scored a goal in the first period against the Boston Bruins on September 29 2010 at the TD Garden in Boston Massachusetts. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
A Nicklas Bäckström interview from the Swedish hockey site Hockeysverige.se by Simone Götesson.
Nicklas Backstrom has not missed an NHL game since his debut in 2007. He never gets injured and he is never sick. At least not enough to miss a game. Does he have a secret weapon like Bamse’s magical thunder honey?
Forget about it. Bäckström has no secrets.
"I'm just less sensitive than most people" he says to with a sly grin.
After a summer when Bäckström, by his own admission, has been training like everyone else, he’s now back on the ice with both new and old teammates. On a team filled with the yearning for redemption, that are now preparing for a new NHL season. After last year's failure in the Stanley Cup playoffs it is a moment of truth for the star-laden team.
For those of you that don’t remember, the Capitals won the regular season last year and were one of the favorites to go all the way. Instead they got eliminated by the Montreal Canadiens in the first round, despite having a lead with 3-1 in games.
"I think we started out pretty weak in each of the last three games, and when they got the lead with 1-0, 2-0 respectively, we had to come from behind and fight hard just to catch up. They got us exactly where they wanted, and used their upper hand to perfection." says Bäckström. He then points to another problem: "I think we relaxed a bit, and didn’t have the right killer instinct to just close down the series."
So have you learned to play playoff hockey now?
"Hopefully, but it all comes down to very small details and mistakes that we must be corrected. And at same time the whole team have to play at the top of their ability."
What’s the mistake you must correct?
"You miss your assignment and don't control your man little things like that. Of course mistakes happen, but in the playoffs you have to tighten up and be as sharp as possible and everybody must put in a higher gear."
Bäckström himself is a reliable point producer in both the regular season and in the playoffs. He produced at around a point per game average in the Stanley Cup and last year he was the ninth Swedish player ever to cross the 100-point barrier in the regular season. But personal success don’t mean much to the young Swede.
"Sure for me personally these first three years have gone well but I would give up all those seasons for a Stanley Cup. To win it all is on top of my list right now."
He hasn't set any specific personal goals for this season.
"I know it’s a boring thing to say, but I just take it as it comes. I usually say that I want us to reach the playoffs and go as far as we can when we get there"
At the start of training camp there were three Swedish players on the ice; Nicklas Bäckström, Marcus Johansson and Anton Gustafsson. Those are players that "Bäckis" would like to see in the Capitals’ locker room this fall.
"I hope so, that would be great."
Marcus Johansson has the best chance to take a spot on the team.
What do you think of him?
"I think he held up well so far and he’s a great skater. I hope he makes the team that’s what I would like to see."
And so finally what about this thing with Bäckström and the mysterious lack of injuries?
He claims he practices no differently than anyone else does. There are no secrets. He’s just less sensitive.
You mean you are just stronger than everbody else?
"You can interpret it anyway you like," Bäckis says with a cryptic smile. Perhaps there is a jar of thunder honey in the kitchen after all.