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2017-18 Rink Wrap: Nicklas Backstrom

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From Backstrom to Wilson, we’re taking a look at and grading the 2017-18 season for every player who laced ‘em up for the Stanley Cup Champion Caps for a significant number of games during the campaign, with an eye towards 2018-19. Next up, Nicklas Backstrom.

NHL: Stanley Cup Final-Washington Capitals at Vegas Golden Knights Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports
Regular Season
Scor Scor Scor Goal Goal Goal Goal Shot Shot Ice
Season Age Tm GP G A PTS +/- PIM EV PP SH GW S S% ATOI FO%
2007-08 20 WSH 82 14 55 69 13 24 11 3 0 4 153 9.2 19:00 46.3
2008-09 21 WSH 82 22 66 88 16 46 8 14 0 1 174 12.6 19:57 48.7
2009-10 22 WSH 82 33 68 101 37 50 22 11 0 4 222 14.9 20:27 49.9
2010-11 23 WSH 77 18 47 65 24 40 13 4 1 2 202 8.9 20:36 52.3
2011-12 24 WSH 42 14 30 44 -4 24 11 3 0 4 95 14.7 19:10 51.1
2012-13 25 WSH 48 8 40 48 8 20 5 3 0 1 82 9.8 19:54 51.4
2013-14 26 WSH 82 18 61 79 -20 54 11 6 1 1 196 9.2 19:48 50.5
2014-15 27 WSH 82 18 60 78 5 40 15 3 0 3 153 11.8 20:32 53.6
2015-16 28 WSH 75 20 50 70 17 36 17 3 0 4 129 15.5 19:11 48.6
2016-17 29 WSH 82 23 63 86 17 38 15 8 0 5 162 14.2 18:16 51.4
2017-18 30 WSH 81 21 50 71 5 46 14 7 0 4 165 12.7 19:40 51.2
Career 815 209 590 799 118 418 142 65 2 33 1733 12.1 19:42 50.6

Playoffs
Scor Scor Scor Goal Goal Goal Goal Ice
Season Age Tm GP G A PTS +/- PIM EV PP SH GW S S% ATOI FO%
2007-08 20 WSH 7 4 2 6 3 2 1 3 0 0 19 21.1 20:26 50.0
2008-09 21 WSH 14 3 12 15 3 8 1 2 0 0 33 9.1 21:40 49.1
2009-10 22 WSH 7 5 4 9 7 4 5 0 0 1 27 18.5 21:03 46.7
2010-11 23 WSH 9 0 2 2 0 4 0 0 0 0 25 0.0 23:19 46.0
2011-12 24 WSH 13 2 6 8 2 18 2 0 0 1 25 8.0 21:31 49.8
2012-13 25 WSH 7 1 2 3 -2 0 1 0 0 0 14 7.1 19:47 54.5
2014-15 27 WSH 14 3 5 8 -3 2 2 1 0 1 24 12.5 21:36 58.5
2015-16 28 WSH 12 2 9 11 3 8 2 0 0 1 24 8.3 20:02 47.6
2016-17 29 WSH 13 6 7 13 0 2 5 1 0 1 26 23.1 20:44 47.7
2017-18 30 WSH SC 20 5 18 23 -1 6 5 0 0 1 36 13.9 20:37 51.7
Career 1 116 31 67 98 12 54 24 7 0 6 253 12.3 21:06 50.6

Key Stat: Backstrom put up 71 points this season, marking the fifth-straight season - and seventh time overall - in which he scored at least 70 points. Backstrom is one of only seven players (including teammate Alex Ovechkin) to have at least seven 70+ point seasons since his rookie season of 2007-08.

Interesting Stat: Backstrom was on the ice alongside Ovechkin for just over 608 minutes at five on five, marking the least amount of time they’ve spent on the same line in a full 82-game season (with the exception of the 2011-12 campaign, when Backstrom missed 40 games with an injury).

The Good: The 2017-18 season wasn’t one that particularly stood out for Backstrom on the surface; it was another solid year. You know, just another season in which he put up 21 goals (his third-straight 20+ goal season) and averaged close to a point a game, another season in which he put up at least 50 assists (his fifth-straight and eighth time overall, tied with Ryan Getzlaf for the most since 2007-08). Ho hum.

What’s interesting about this being more of the same for #19 is that for the first time in his career, he wasn’t always on a line with his usual running mate in Ovechkin. Instead, he was tasked for roughly half the season (and the entire playoffs) with centering the team’s “second” line alongside T.J. Oshie and a rotation of Andre Burakovsky, Jakub Vrana, and Chandler Stephenson. And he did so without missing a beat, continuing to be one of the team’s top forwards in terms of possession - his CF% rel of 4.4 was his highest since posting 5.7% in his rookie campaign - and leading the team in even-strength HDGF% (% of goals scored off of high-danger scoring chances).

Along the way, Backstrom racked up more milestones and continued to climb up the ranks of the franchise’s all-time greats. In February he scored career goal #200; a month later he appeared in his 800th game, and shortly after that he picked up two assists against the Rangers to move into sole possession of third place on the franchise points list (789). He finished the season just one point shy of 800 for his career.

Once the playoffs rolled around, he - like the majority of his teammates - found another gear. Backstrom’s 13 power-play points led the League and helped fuel the team’s dominant 29.3% rate with the extra man. He also finished the playoff run with the third-highest point total in the League (23) behind Ovechkin and Evgeny Kuznetsov, tied with Winnipeg’s Blake Wheeler for the second-highest assist total (18), an overtime game-winner in a key Game 5 against Columbus in the first round, seven points in the five-game series against Vegas... and oh yeah, a Stanley Cup ring.

The Bad: As weird as it is to say, Backstrom’s 71-point season was a bit of a dropoff for him, a somewhat lackluster follow-up to a stellar 86-point 2016-17 in which he was one of the League’s top scorers. Some of that can be attributed to moving around a bit in the lineup, as linemate production is going to take a hit when your linemate isn’t the great 8. He also had a tendency to take penalties at a high rate during the regular season and finished with the third-highest PIM total among Caps’ forwards.

And while Backstrom’s overall playoff production was unsurprisingly impressive, his goal-scoring was barely a factor, with just five goals - one shy of his career high but in many more games played - during the four-series run. The biggest reason for that, obviously, was the hand injury suffered towards the end of the second round against Pittsburgh, an injury that clearly hampered his ability to shoot the puck on net (if not to dish it out to his teammates).

The Video:

The Charts:

Backstrom’s Season, Game-by-Game (via HockeyViz, explained here):

via HockeyViz

Backstrom and His Linemates (chart by @muneebalamcu):

Backstrom’s 5v5 Teammates and Competition (via HockeyViz, explained here):

via HockeyViz

Backstrom’s 5v5 Usage (chart by @muneebalamcu):

Backstrom’s With-or-Without You (via HockeyViz, explained here):

via HockeyViz

Backstrom’s Rolling Shot-Attempt (Corsi) -For Percentage (chart by @muneebalamcu):

Backstrom’s Player Traits and Performance (chart by @RK_Stimp, data by @ShutdownLine, Tableau here):

The Vote: Rate Backstrom below on a scale of 1-10 (10 being the best) based on his performance relative to his potential and your expectations for the season - if he had the best year you could have imagined him having, give him a 10; if he more or less played as you expected he would, give him a 5 or a 6; if he had the worst year you could have imagined him having, give him a 1.

The Discussion: It’s likely that Backstrom will start the 2018-19 campaign on the Caps’ second line alongside T.J. Oshie; who lines up best on the other wing? Backstrom’s next point will be his 800th in the regular season, by far the most in his draft class and 12th or so among legitimately active players; at this point, what does this 30-year-old Stanley Cup champion need to add to his resume to have a good chance at being enshrined in the Hall of Fame when he eventually calls it quits? What would it take for you to give him a “10” next year?

Other Backstrom Season Reviews: Peerless, RMNB

Poll

How do you rate Nicklas Backstrom’s 2017-18 season?

This poll is closed

  • 30%
    10
    (88 votes)
  • 20%
    9
    (59 votes)
  • 28%
    8
    (81 votes)
  • 12%
    7
    (36 votes)
  • 4%
    6
    (14 votes)
  • 1%
    5
    (4 votes)
  • 0%
    4
    (2 votes)
  • 0%
    3
    (0 votes)
  • 0%
    2
    (0 votes)
  • 0%
    1
    (0 votes)
284 votes total Vote Now