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Nicklas Backstrom: One Point Away from 200

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Nicklas Backstrom's next point will be the 200th of his career, and he'll try to get it tonight in his 202nd career game (not coincidentally the same number of regular season games the Caps have played since the start of the 2007-08 season).

An assist would give Nick a nice, round 50-goal, 150-assist total, though betting on the helper here might not be the smart play given that Backstrom has six goals and just one assist in his last five games.

As impressive as his career numbers are thus far, throw out the Glen Hanlon era (i.e. the first 21 games of the Swedish pivot's NHL career) and they look even better, even against some of his more experienced and more highly touted peers. Here's a look at the numbers, since November 23, 2007, of the top ten scoring centers since the start of that '07-'08 season:

GP G A Pts +/-
Evgeni Malkin 173 86
Joe Thornton
180 56
209 +40
Pavel Datsyuk
176 67
Ryan Getzlaf
51 140 191 +36
Sidney Crosby
Nicklas Backstrom
180 49 141 190
Henrik Sedin
180 48
Mike Ribeiro
177 50 120 170
Mike Richards
Vincent Lecavalier

Since Bruce Boudreau took over behind the Caps' bench one-quarter of the way through Backstrom's rookie season, only one player - Jumbo Joe - has more assists than the young Swede. Only one center - Datsyuk - has a better plus-minus. And while other pivots have lit the lamp more often, the Caps' media team is quick to point out that that part of Nick's game is coming along as well:

Nicklas Backstrom recorded his third two-goal game in the last 11 outings Wednesday night; that’s more than he had in his first two seasons in the league (two). Backstrom has 10 goals and nine assists (19 points) with a +11 rating in his last 12 games. His eight goals in December are tied for third in the league (Stephen Weiss, 10, and Andrei Kostitsyn, 9). His 10 goals have come on 33 shots (30.3%) in the last 11 games. Before that he had four goals on 61 shots (6.6%) in 26 games.

So whenever Nicklas Backstrom hits that 200-point milestone, take note of what he's achieved along the way... and marvel at what he might do next. He's a truly special player.