The Washington Capitals fell to the Buffalo Sabres on home ice last night by a score of 5-2. The loss spoiled what was an otherwise extremely special evening for the Capitals. Nicklas Backstrom was playing in his 1000th career game in the NHL and for the Washington Capitals. Congrats, Backy! This is what the Capitals played for Backstrom in the pre-game ceremony and celebration:
Admittedly, I found myself getting a little emotional during the tribute yesterday. My love for the Capitals and the sport of hockey started the year Ovechkin was drafted in 2004 when I was still just a relatively young kid. The Capitals drafted Backstrom just a few years later in 2006. Ovechkin and Backstrom quickly became a dynamic duo both on and off the ice. These two were the catalyst for my love for the Capitals and for the sport of hockey. They were young, mega talented, and just brought a degree of insatiable excitement to the game. The Swede and original “Mr. Cool” has always had a real steady personality. On the ice, Backstrom is cool, calm, and collected. It quickly became apparent early on in Backstrom’s career that he was going to be special.
I am 100% bias when I say this, but I have never seen another hockey player handle/pass the puck as well has as Backstrom has for as long as he has. He has a knack for calmly creating time and space whether it be 5v5 or on the power play.
Objectively speaking, Backstrom leads the league in assists since his rookie year back in 2007-2008:
In addition, since 2007-2008, he leads the league in power play assists:
It is crazy to think it has already been 1000 games played. Feels like just yesterday the Bostron Bruins were trying to trade up to draft him:
Good call, George.
In all seriousness, Backstrom is a once in a generation type of player. The Capitals were fortunate enough to get both Backstrom and Ovechkin. Watching other franchises struggle over the years at the bottom of the standings just reminds me to appreciate what the Capitals have. The Capitals may not be perfect but guys like Backstrom don’t come around very often.
Even at 1000 career games, Backstrom is having a career year and is showing no signs of slowing down. I think he keeps playing until Ovechkin catches Gretzky in four years. Ovechkin and Backstrom will retire together the season after Ovechkin gets the goal record.
About The Hockey Game Last Night:
Here is what I will say. The Buffalo Sabres have been playing some very competitive hockey since they snapped their losing streak. In addition, the Sabres have played the Caps tough all year. With that being said, I am very disappointed with the lack of effort and sense of urgency from the Capitals last night. This was Backstrom’s 1000th game! In addition, the Capitals had just come off two games where they beat and outscored the Bruins + Flyers by a combined scored of 14-2. All signs were pointing towards a Capitals win. Well I was wrong. Not only did the Caps lose on Backstrom’s 1000th game, they were practically dismantled by the last place Sabres. Sad. I am not going to break the game down like I typically do, but I will say this…
As a Capitals fan who has endured many years of postseason letdowns and only one Stanley Cup win, this loss to the Sabres significantly raises my panic meter when I think about if the Capitals have a legitimate shot to win the Stanley Cup this year. I do not mean to overreact, but I have seen this song and dance before. The story about the Capitals who are one of the most prolific teams during the regular season. The same Capitals who overpay for a trade deadline guy only to get marginally better. The same Capitals who lose in the first or second round of the playoffs every year. Its cyclical. This years Caps team has struggled with consistency and has notably got their butts whooped in the third period almost every game. AT times they look OLD and well, they are objectively the oldest team in the league. The goaltending looks great one week, then they look minor league the next week. The Caps have been consistently inconsistent. No offense to the Sabres but if the Capitals are legitimate Stanley Cup contenders, this is a game the Caps should have throttled Buffalo. Yes, the Capitals technically sit in first place in the division. But that is what they do! They have won their division in 10 of the last 13 seasons but only have one cup to show for many elite seasons. This year, the East division is LOADED. It’s honestly a toss-up who comes out on top for the ECF. At this point I do not even know what I am ranting about or the point I am trying to make but I hope this loss is a big wake up call for the Capitals as it relates to their Stanley Cup aspirations. Am still betting the Caps to win the cup? Absolutely. Do I feel good about it? Not particularly.