Washington Capitals coach Barry Trotz knows he will eventually see center Nicklas Backstrom on the ice.
But it remains uncertain whether that will happen for Sunday’s Game 2 of the Eastern Conference finals against the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Backstrom missed the series opener due to the right hand injury he suffered during the second-round series against the Pittsburgh Penguins on May 5.
Trotz said he doesn’t yet have a handle on exactly when Backstrom will be back in action other than a gut feel that he will return at some point in this series.
He also said Backstrom’s inactivity won’t be an issue.
“I’m not worried about Nick Backstrom,” Trotz told reporters on Saturday. “Nicky is one of those guys that you can throw him in and he’s not going to miss a beat.”
The Capitals will be looking to take a 2-0 series lead on Sunday. Washington won the opener 4-2.
Backstrom had three goals and 10 assists in 11 playoff games prior to the injury.
Alex Ovechkin (one goal, one assist) fueled the Washington attack in the Game 1 victory. Evgeny Kuznetsov and T.J. Oshie each had two assists.
Tampa Bay will be looking for a better effort from goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy, who was pulled after allowing four goals over the first two periods of Game 1.
“They had pretty good scoring chances (Friday) night,” Vasilevskiy told reporters on Saturday, “but I gave up four playing two periods, so I guess I have to play better next game.”
The other Lightning players indicated there was plenty of blame to go around.
“Everybody in this group individually holds a high standard to themselves,” defenseman Ryan McDonagh told reporters. “We expect a lot out of ourselves. ... We’ve got to raise our game.”
Defender Victor Hedman expressed similar thoughts.
“A loss is a loss at the end of the day and we know we’ve got better in us,” Hedman told reporters. “We know they’re a good team and they are a team that plays with a lot of speed, an up-tempo game.
“They caught us out of position a few times, but we’ve got to make sure that we focus more on staying composed out there.”