Nicklas Backstrom's recovery from a concussion has taken two significant steps forward since the Swedish center was cleared for full participation in practice with the team last week.
First, General Manager George McPhee announced shortly before Tuesday night's 5-1 loss to Buffalo that Backstrom had passed the baseline neuropsychological test, a key hurdle to getting him back in the lineup.
"He performed better on this than he did on the baseline [test conducted during training camp]. We’ll see where it goes from here but it looks like the worst is behind for Nicky."
"I would have liked him in the lineup 50 games ago. Obviously he’s a terrific player but it’s got to be his decision," McPhee said. "We’re not going to put any pressure on him to play. He’s got to be comfortable and we’re not going to put this kid at risk by telling him we need him to play et cetera.
"He’s a grownup and he knows how he feels," McPhee continued. "He’ll make the decision as to whether he plays or not."
That was Tuesday night. Wednesday morning, during the team's practice at Kettler IcePlex, the team disclosed that Backstrom would travel with the team to Boston, where the Capitals play the Bruins Thursday night.
None of this is a guarantee that Backstrom will be back this season, but it is a good sign for the center's long-term health, if nothing else.
UPDATE: Right on cue, this from the Post's Katie Carrera:
Dale Hunter says Nicklas Backstrom will NOT play tomorrow in Boston. #Caps— Katie Carrera (@kcarrera) March 28, 2012