By Sky Kerstein

Nicklas Backstrom spoke for the first time in English since January 6th as the Capitals held practice today as they prepare for two pivotal games, first in New York against the Rangers then they come home and host the San Jose Sharks on Monday.  The Caps are tied points wise with the Florida Panthers for first in the Southeast Division, but because the Panthers have a game in hand the Caps are currently ninth in the Eastern Conference.  The Caps are also one point out of the eighth spot behind Toronto.

Backstrom, who hasn’t played since January 3rd with a concussion and has missed the Caps last 16 games, is currently one point behind Alex Ovechkin for the team lead in points.

“Doing good, it’s a long process, but I’m getting better,”  Backstrom said today.  “Obviously you want to be out there and play with the team, but this is the situation now, you got to deal with it.”

Backstrom, who has been around his teammates a lot more lately, says he has been doing the bike lately for off ice work, but still isn’t ready to get on the ice.

“I’m not 100 percent to skate right now,”  Backstrom said.  “We’ll see when it’s going to be time for me to hit the ice, right now I’m taking it day-by-day.”

The Caps forward lines this morning looked like: Ovechkin-Johansson-Brouwer, Chimera-Perreault-Semin, Hendricks-Laich-Ward, Aucoin-Halpern-Knuble-Beagle.

Mike Knuble, who was a healthy scratch for the first time in what he says “ten years” on Thursday, says he hasn’t been told if he’s in the line up tomorrow yet.

“It is kind of where were at and day-to-day,”  Knuble said.  “You just go out and practice hard, be a good teammate.”

Knuble said he talked with Dale Hunter on Thursday about being a healthy scratch and said Capitals Head Coach Dale Hunter told him that, “You haven’t scored in a while, bad plus minus.”

Hunter called Knuble a “game-time decision” for tomorrow.

Mike Green skated before practice today once again, but also participated in practice for the first ten minutes before he came off the ice.

The Capitals dad’s and brothers are in town for the annual mentors trip as they’ll take the train up with the team to New York and then come back and spend some time with their sons and brothers in DC.

Dale Hunter reflected on his time playing at Madison Square Garden, saying jokingly that the fans treated him “always very well”.

“I always hated that door creaking when they closed the penalty box on me,”  Hunter added.

Listen here to what Dale Hunter, Nicklas Backstrom, Mike Knuble, Dennis Wideman & Karl Alzner had to say following practice today.

Dale Hunter Practice Audio

Nicklas Backstrom Practice Audio

Mike Knuble Practice Audio

Dennis Wideman Practice Audio

Karl Alzner Practice Audio


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