TAMPA -- Despite not practicing on Friday, ailing Washington Capitals center Nicklas Backstrom is a game-time decision for Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals against the Tampa Bay Lightning, according to coach Barry Trotz.
Backstrom missed Game 6 of the Capitals' series against the Pittsburgh Penguins with an injury to his right hand after blocking a shot from Penguins defenseman Justin Schultz. He arrived at that game with his hand bandaged. Center Lars Eller moved up to the Capitals' second line in their series-ending overtime victory on Monday.
"It's the same as when we played Pittsburgh last game," said Capitals star winger Alex Ovechkin. "Nick is our top guy, but you can see the effort that we had against Pittsburgh."
Backstrom has three goals and 10 assists in 11 games this postseason, including one overtime game-winner. The 30-year-old center had 71 points in 81 games during the regular season.
He skated on Thursday at the Capitals' practice facility in Virginia, working on some stick-handling and passing, but he did not practice. Trotz said that when Backstrom says he's ready, he'll be in the lineup.
"When Nick comes to me, or any top player, and he and our staff say he's ready to go, there isn't a coach in the National Hockey League that isn't putting a player like Nick Backstrom in the lineup," he said.
Capitals winger Andre Burakovsky, who last played in Game 2 of their first-round series against the Columbus Blue Jackets, was also called a game-time decision by Trotz, although he practiced and all indications are he'll return for Game 1.