|Don't know what's wrong? Me either, pal.|
Stats/Season Summary: Backstrom, by his standards, had an awful year, setting career lows in games played (77), points (65), and assists (47); the low number assists is particularly depressing. He also only scored 18 goals, only four off his career low, while compiling a +24 rating and 40 penalty minutes. Backstrom looked lost basically the entire year, never gaining a rhythm and going 7 games without an assist at one point (unthinkable for a passer of his caliber) and a ridiculous 22 games without a goal at one point. You knew is was going to say it. He was bad, and especially coming off the year he had last year (there was a FORTY point drop off), it was particularly tough to deal with. 'Twas bad. Grade: C
Role Play: After Nicky had his awesome year in 2009-10, he was rewarded with a 10-year, $67-million deal. That says top center. That says top-20 NHL player. And that says a point per game player. Backstrom was none of these things. Backstrom was asked, as he has his entire career with the Caps, to be a facilitator on the power play. Could he do that? Nope. The power play struggled all year, and he was one of the reasons for it. He refused to shoot when he had wide-open looks, he forced passes, and he made bad decisions up and down the ice. The only thing he did well was penalty killing, which he deserves some credit for as he expands his game. But that shouldn't mean a 40-point drop off in offensive production. Grade: C-
Playoffs: Backstrom was nothing short of atrocious this postseason, being held goalless and only recording two assists in the nine games he played. He had an even rating and four penalty minutes, while taking 25 shots total in those nine games. The playoffs were more of the same off the regular season for Nicky, who struggled tremendously to put together even one vintage Backstrom shift. The news surfaced later that his thumb was bothering him again, but two points in the playoffs is inexcusable for a player of his caliber. He is in the "goat" class in terms of reasons the Caps were swept. Grade: D-
Future Potential: Regardless of this off year (this BETTER be an off year), Backstrom still has the skills and potential to be a top-10 NHL player and be named in the same class as Crosby, Toews, Sedin, and Datsyuk when it comes to centers. He's not going anywhere, and he will continue to skate alongside the Captain almost every night and see big minutes in every situation. Hopefully, he'll be healthy in the fall, if and only if he can keep from raging all summer. Grade: A
The next report card will be posted on June 16th and will feature defenseman John Carlson.