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Capitals Weekend Roundup

Monday - 11/7/2011, 8:16am  ET

AP: 16499fe2-b717-4a50-8be6-b07d18636f7d
Washington Capitals' Nicklas Backstrom (19), of Sweden, scores on Carolina Hurricanes goalie Cam Ward during the third period of an NHL hockey game in Raleigh, N.C., Friday, Nov. 4, 2011. Washington won 5-1. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)

Ben Raby, wtop.com

The Capitals have assigned D.J. King to the American Hockey League's Hershey Bears, the club announced Sunday.

King has dressed in only one of Washington's 12 games this season, skating a mere 6:58 in a 2-1 win against the Ottawa Senators on Oct. 15.

The 27-year-old appeared in just 16 games last season, and spoke to management late last month regarding his desire to play more.

In response, the Capitals placed King on waivers last Monday but none of the NHL's 29 other teams put in a claim.

"I need to play hockey," King said last week. "If I want to prolong my career in the NHL, I need to play hockey. No one can prolong their career if they're only playing 15 games a year."

With his assignment to Hershey, King should see more game action moving forward, albeit in the AHL. King is set to become a free agent next summer and would probably be best served to showcase his skills somewhere other than at the Kettler Capitals Iceplex.

King will continue to receive his full $650,000 salary, but his $637,500 cap hit will not count against the Capitals' salary cap while he is playing outside the NHL.

Without King, the Caps active roster now consists of 22 players (13 forwards, seven defensemen and two goalies), with forward Jay Beagle on injured reserve, and defenseman Tom Poti on long-term IR.

Back to Form for Backstrom:

Don't be surprised to see Capitals center Nicklas Backstrom among the NHL's three stars of the week when the league announces its weekly honorees Monday afternoon.

Coming off a career-low 65 points last season, Backstrom has been instrumental in the Capitals best start in franchise history (a 9-3-0 record through 12 games).

The Caps' No.1 center leads the team with 18 points (five goals and 13 assists), and is third overall in NHL scoring (through Sunday), behind only Toronto's Phil Kessel (21 points) and Philadelphia's Claude Giroux (19 points). Backstrom's ten power play points are also a league best.

"Offensively," head coach Bruce Boudreau says, "he's putting up (numbers) as good as he has before. But whether he scores or whether he doesn't, he's such an integral part (of the team) because he does everything else well."

Backstrom's ten power play points this season are also a league best, and he enters Tuesday's game against Dallas with four straight multi-point games.

In three games last week, Backstrom had three goals and three assists. He also scored both the game-tying and game-winning goals in the Caps' 5-4 overtime win over Anaheim last Tuesday.

Seeing Stars:

The Capitals return home Tuesday for their only meeting of the season against the Dallas Stars. The Stars have missed the playoffs in each of the last three seasons, but they sit atop the Western Conference at 10-3-0 through the first month of the season.

Dallas began a four-game road trip with a 5-2 win Sunday in Carolina. The Stars' top-line of Jamie Benn, Loui Eriksson and Michael Ryder combined for three goals and eight points.

Sheldon Souray, who spent last season with the Hershey Bears, has four goals and 12 points and is fifth in NHL scoring among defensemen. Souray's plus-10 rating is also a league-best.

The Stars have also benefited from solid play between the pipes, where Kari Lehtonen is an NHL-best 10-1-0, with a 2.14 goals-against-average and .936 save percentage.

Avs Watch 2012:

The Colorado Avalanche fell at home Sunday, 2-1 to the Calgary Flames. Colorado has lost three straight and five of six overall as the Avs drop to 7-6-1 on the year.

The Capitals received Colorado's first round pick in next June's NHL Entry Draft as part of the deal that sent goalie Semyon Varlamov to Denver last summer.

Varlamov is on a personal three-game losing streak, having allowed 12 goals in the three games. The Avs visit the Detroit Red Wings (6-5-1) on Tuesday.

Catch the Capitals and Stars Tuesday at 7:05. Coverage begins with Caps Pregame on Federal News Radio, 1500AM and online at www.wfed.com.

Follow Ben Raby and WTOP on Twitter.

(Copyright 2011 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)