Thread: MLD 2011 Bios
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07-18-2011, 07:40 PM
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C Nicklas Backstrom

1x 1st Team All Rookie
10th in Selke Voting, 09-10
28th in Selke Voting, 08-09
11th in Hart Voting, 09-10
4th in All Star Voting, 09-10
2nd in Calder Trophy Voting, 07-08
2008-2009 Viking Award Winner for Swedish Player of the Year
2006 World Championships Gold Medalist
8th Power Play Goals(08-09)
4x Top 17 Assists(3, 3, 11, 17)
4x Top 40 Points(4, 9, 34, 40)


Assists: 99, 94, 83, 69
Points: 93, 80, 66, 65

During Career:

4th in Assists(96% of 2nd place Thornton)
9th in Points(89% of 2nd place H. Sedin)

Displays outstanding patience with the puck, playmaking acumen and a knack for being in the right place at the right time. Is mature and has great instincts for the game. His shot is improving and he also boasts defensive ability.

“When you’re around him every day you see how talented he is, how driven and how much attention he pays to every little thing, even though he’s that good. That doesn’t go unnoticed.”

Backstrom’s workmanlike attitude was one of the reasons Boudreau named him one of the team’s alternate captains this season. He had previously served as a captain of the Swedish national team as a teenager, but the acknowledgment of his significance to the Capitals gave him pause.

Nicklas Backstrom cut to center ice, glanced up and saw a gaping hole in the New York Rangers' defense.

Only the hole wasn't there -- yet.

Everything was unfolding at full speed, but in Backstrom's mind it was in slow motion. Then, without a hint of hesitation, the center threaded a pass between two Rangers and onto the stick of xxx, who scored the third of five consecutive goals in the Washington Capitals' 5-4 victory at Madison Square Garden on Dec. 23.

"You see a lot of great passes in your lifetime, but there are only certain people who can make that pass," Coach Bruce Boudreau said. "He's one of those guys, and he did it with all of the confidence that the pass was going to get there. He had 3 1/2 inches, and the puck is three inches in diameter."

It's passes like that -- and the rate at which he's been racking up points recently -- that have the league buzzing about Backstrom. He was expected to blossom into a world-class playmaker someday; it just wasn't supposed to happen three months into his second NHL campaign, just a month after his 21st birthday.

"Every year you want to be better," Backstrom said. "I have that responsibility right now. I get a lot of ice time. I want to be good out there. I don't want to be just some random player."

Backstrom no doubt benefits from playing on the same line as Alex Ovechkin, the reigning most valuable player and the league's third-leading scorer. But what has distinguished Backstrom's play this season is the fact that he has, on many occasions, dominated games on his own. Of his 31 assists, in fact, only 10 have come on goals scored by Ovechkin.

Boudreau has started turning to Backstrom in critical situations, including putting him out for defensive zone faceoffs in close games. The coach has also given him the alternate captain's "A" the past four contests.

But the thing that doesn't need any work is the same one he struggles to explain: his ability to make imaginative passes, such as the one he made to xxx, that surprise opponents and wow fans.

"It's my best thing on the ice, the way I see the ice," he said. "I don't know where it came from. Maybe it was a gift from my parents."

Boudreau couldn't explain it, either.

"I haven't seen many kids his age -- obviously I don't see Sidney Crosby too often -- that can make saucer passes that end up on the guy's stick that aren't bouncing, over two sticks, on to his teammate's," he said. "It's something special."

Nicklas Backstrom has already cemented his reputation as one of the NHL's best setup men. But over the past month, the 22-year-old Swede has shown he has the potential to be one of hockey's best finishers, too.

"He's shooting the puck," coach Bruce Boudreau said of Backstrom. "He's got a good shot, and it's sneaky quick. We've been asking him for a long time now to shoot more."

This is debatable, but Nicklas Backstrom may have played the best game of the season by a Washington Capitals player. He was that good.

Brian Pothier said he was "disgusting." Bruce Boudreau said there might not be words to describe how great he was. Backstrom just killed the Rangers on almost every shift.

Backstrom, the Capitals' No. 4 overall draft pick in 2006, showed flashes of his vast potential and scored a goal in Washington's 4-3 overtime loss to Carolina at RBC Center. He also displayed the defensive discipline that has team officials hoping he'll develop into a two-way dynamo, much like fellow Swede Peter Forsberg.

"A lot of people want to credit Alex, but I credit Nicky with a lot of Alex's success as well," said Boudreau, who rarely hesitates to give his young players more responsibility. Over the past 11 games, Backstrom averaged 2 minutes 14 seconds on the penalty kill, helping the Capitals unit deny its opponent on 50 of 59 opportunities (84.7 percent).

Backstrom knew as a center he needed to improve his defensive play, and his dedication to becoming more well-rounded has not gone unnoticed by his teammates.

"I think he realizes as a center he needs to play down on defense just as well," Fedorov said. "Down low in our zone he's realized he needs to work a little harder and that's what he's done. That's maturity."

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