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2020-21 Rink Wrap: Nicklas Backstrom

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From Backstrom to Wilson, we’re taking a look at and grading the 2020-21 season for every player who laced ‘em up for the Caps for a significant number of games during the campaign, with an eye towards 2021-22. First up, Nicklas Backstrom.

Pittsburgh Penguins v Washington Capitals Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images

The Stats:

Regular Season

Playoffs

The Charts:

via Evolving-Hockey
via Hockey-Viz

The Key Stat: Nicklas Backstrom scored 15 goals on 91 shots this season for a shooting percentage of 16.5%, the highest of his career.

The Good: Over the course of his career, Backstrom has been a model of consistency. Operating at just about a point-per-game pace since his debut back in 2007, he has long been the steady backbone of the Caps - in the last few seasons, though, he fell off that pace a bit. This year he was back, not only putting up points at a high rate but chipping in the offense... and at times even carrying the team in that department. His 53 points led the team, just the second time in his career that he’s led the Caps in scoring (the other being 2016-17)

Only once did he go more than a single game without cracking the scoresheet, and that was in the team’s final two games of the regular season when he was dealing with an apparent injury that lingered through the postseason. His 15 goals were third on the team behind only Ovechkin and T.J. Oshie, and put him on pace for 22 over a full season, which would be tied for his third-highest total.

The highlight of the season, though, was the celebration that ensued for Backstrom’s 1000th career game - a long overdue chance for the organization and the fans to put him in the spotlight for once (even though he probably hated it) and celebrate everything he has meant to team and city. N1KY forever.

The Bad: While Backstrom provided a healthy dose of goals, that scoring touch seemed to dry up as the season went on, with only four of his 15 goals coming in the second half. And like many of his teammates, he struggled in the faceoff circle - Backstrom’s win percentage of 48.29 was the second-lowest of his career, and the lowest since his rookie season.

But for the most part, his regular season was very strong overall. His playoffs however... well, for much of the team that’s where the true struggles lay and unfortunately it resulted in a quick exit. What was later revealed to be an apparent hip injury suffered late in the regular season was clearly hampering him during the team’s opening series against the Bruins, and he managed just a single point in the five-game series.

The Video:

The Discussion: Last season we saw Backstrom take a big step backwards, offensively speaking; this year, he rebounded and led the team in scoring. What impact, if any, do you think his advancing age will have on his production next year and beyond? As he heads into his next 1000 games, is there anything missing from Backstrom’s resume that you think could keep him out of the Hall of Fame or is he a lock? What are your favorite Backstrom moments from those 1000 games? And finally, what would it take for you to give Backstrom a 10 next season?

The Other Backstrom Season Reviews: Coming soon!

The Vote: Rate Nicklas 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.

Poll

How do you rate Nicklas Backstrom’s 2020-21 season?

This poll is closed

  • 1%
    10
    (3 votes)
  • 14%
    9
    (23 votes)
  • 32%
    8
    (53 votes)
  • 28%
    7
    (47 votes)
  • 11%
    6
    (19 votes)
  • 6%
    5
    (10 votes)
  • 3%
    4
    (5 votes)
  • 0%
    3
    (1 vote)
  • 0%
    2
    (1 vote)
  • 0%
    1
    (1 vote)
163 votes total Vote Now