Nicklas Backstrom: "We Have Been Waiting for This"

Mean Lars, ready to go... (via bridgetds)

Nicklas Backstrom recently sat down with his hometown newspaper, Gefle Dagblad.

Do you feel like you are in good shape for the playoffs?

I hope so, anyway. It has felt better lately and things have started to kick into gear a bit. This is going to be fun, as a hockey player the playoffs are what is it's all about. That's what you spend the whole year yearning for. Especially after what happened in the playoffs last year. We have been waiting for this.

How's your thumb?

It feels good now and it's completely healed. It wasn't just a fracture, it was actually a complete ligament tear. The thumb was kind of just hanging there, all loose. I knew about this, but still tried to play with special protection. But then I got hit again and ... yeah, what can I say, it is what it is. I rested for a few games and that was what I needed.

When a ligament in the finger is torn there is nothing you can do really, it will heal up by itself. The important thing is that it's ok now. And that was what we were trying to achieve with me sitting out some games. And now it both feels and looks like it normally does. [laughs] The thumb is 100 percent.

What shape is the team in?

I think it's quite good actually. We have played more as a team towards the end, and we have come together more as a group this year compared to last year.

Why are today's Capitals better than last year? What is it that will make you go further than you did then?

We have improved the defense, it's not wide open back there anymore. We haven't scored as many goals this year but that's a direct result of us playing a tighter defense. We still have the power to score. And we will do that now.

And we've got players like Jason Arnott now, who won the Stanley Cup earlier with New Jersey and is a leader both on and off the ice. He knows what it's like to win it all and have that winning mentality with him. I think that is extremely important and really good for us. He and Mike Knuble, who has also won, can mean a lot in the playoffs.

You face the New York Rangers again in the the first round, just as you did in 2008-09. How do you feel about that?

It makes no difference.It's the first seed against the eighth seed but it doesn't matter which team you meet. The Rangers are tough, but if we follow our game plan we can beat them. And it's always fun to play in New York. It has gone well for me there sometimes, I don't know... I hope it will go well this time anyway.

Do you have any prediction about the other series?

Nah, I don't know at all, whatever happens it's going to be really tough. It has been record-breaking close to make the playoffs this year, particularly in the Western Conference. So it's harder than ever before to predict anything.

The NHL announced on Monday that NHL clubs that will play in Sweden in October, New York Rangers, Los Angeles and Anaheim - but the Washington Capitals will stay home for now. Did you want to come to Europe and play?

It would have been so much fun. I know that it was going on but then something happened. To get to play a game against Brynäs would have been fantastic. But maybe another year it can still happen. It would have been so awesome.

I hear you have a lot of extra support in the stands for the playoffs.

Yes, I do. The whole family is here - both my dad and mum and my brother. And soon Nicklas Danielsson will arrive too. I think he's going to stay for two weeks.

And if despite all the extra support it doesn't go according to plans Pär Mårts has continued to keep in touch with you right?

We have met twice. He is a smart man and has been really good at communicating with us over here. I don't think about the World Championships now, but if that day comes and I'm injury-free there's a good chance I would accept an invitation.

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