Backes already making a major impact on the Bruins


Backes already making a major impact on the Bruins

TORONTO, ONTARIO – One of the big laments from last season’s Bruins team was the lack of a consistent net-front presence ready to do wreak havoc around the cage, putting D-men and goalies on notice that it was going to be a long night.

In one game with the Bruins, David Backes announced with authority that the B’s have their net-front presence ready to battle. The 6-foot-3, 215-pounder was at the heart of an offensive binge for his line that saw him score two goals, and help produce 12 points in a 6-3 comeback win over the Columbus Blue Jackets at Nationwide Arena.

Backes also has a newfound fan in Brad Marchand, who has developed a greater respect for his game while playing alongside him.

“He’s awesome. He’s a phenomenal player. I played against him a couple of times, but I never realized how good he really was with the puck, and how smart he was,” said Marchand. “I knew he was really hard to play against and I never enjoyed it, but he’s an awesome guy to have on our team. We’re very fortunate that we signed him.”

Best of all, Backes scored one goal on a wild carom off the end boards from a Zdeno Chara point blast and then tipped a scorched David Pastrnak one-timer past Sergei Bobrovsky while grinding it out in front of the net. The 32-year-old Backes pays that kind of price shift after shift, when it’s not exactly fun to stand tall in front of the net. That does not go unnoticed by his teammates or his coach.

“That’s why we went and got him. We’ve talked about that [net-front presence] for a long time,” said Claude Julien. “He’s a big, strong player that can play center, and can play wing. We’ve liked his net-front presence and all of that stuff, and how strong he is. We had to replace a player that had a pretty good year for us in Loui Eriksson, so I thought it was a great choice to bring David Backes in. I think the team, and the organization, made a really solid decision there.”

The B’s bench boss could have gone even longer discussing Backes’ sudden impact in the Bruins dressing room.

It’s easy to see why Backes has so much success redirecting pucks at the front of the net when he regularly has teammates firing pucks at him while he’s camped in the crease during practice. That B’s haven’t had a player that puts that kind of effort and work into disrupting things in front of the opponent’s net since future Hall of Famer Mark Recchi did it regularly during his years with the Black and Gold. Backes said he learned the art of net-crashing in St. Louis from another big-bodied NHL name extremely familiar to Bostonians that appreciate their hockey: Keith Tkachuk.

“Through junior hockey and college hockey [getting to the front of the net] wasn’t something I was called upon to do. But at this level being a student of the game and being taught by a guy like Keith Tkachuk, you start to realize that’s where the puck is laying and where you can pop a few home,” said Backes. “It’s proven true for a lot of years for me. It’s a hard area of the ice, but it’s a rewarding one too. You get to go there and make a difference.

“There are a few guys, like [Zdeno Chara], where if you go there you know you’re going to come out with some bruises. But a few bruises are a small price to pay for a win, and being able to bang a few home.”

His strength and toughness in all zones was one of the biggest reasons that Boston targeted Backes during the free agency period last season. The bonus now is that Backes becomes that Recchi or Tkachuk-like figure setting the example by paying the price around the net. Then the expectation becomes that other players will move out of their comfort zone to follow that lead, and in doing so make the Bruins a much tougher team to play against. 

Talking points: Ryan Donato's goal helps Bruins clinch playoff berth

USA TODAY Sports Photos

Talking points: Ryan Donato's goal helps Bruins clinch playoff berth

GOLD STAR: Jaden Schwartz stepped up and won the game for the Blues with a couple of really good plays in the third period and overtime. He took advantage of a line change and a lax Bruins defense to snap a shot past Anton Khudobin from the face-off circle in the third period that tied up the game, and then went on a one-man rush in overtime before blasting a puck past Khudobin for the game-winner on a beautiful individual play. Schwartz finished with the two goals that represented all of the St. Louis offense, four shots on net, a hit and a takeaway in 20:02 of ice time while logging a plus-2 rating as well. The Blues clearly needed somebody to step up to the plate with Vladimir Tarasenko and the Schwartz was with St. Louis on Wednesday night.

BLACK EYE: The Bruins were quite literally black and blue after a physical, punishing game with the St. Louis Blues. A number of players took heavy hits against a St. Louis team that felt free to throw hits and take runs with Zdeno Chara and David Backes out of Boston’s lineup among other players, and that culminated with Brayden Schenn drilling David Krejci in the second period. It was a hit that earned Schenn a two minute penalty for charging midway through the period, but shouldn’t result in anything more for the Blues forward. The hit wasn’t late, his skates were on the ice when he made contact, and Krejci was crouched down when Schenn made impact on a heavy check with his elbows tucked in, so it looked like a relatively clean hit that isn’t going to be on the radar of the NHL’s Player Safety Department. That physicality for the Blues really seemed to slow down the Bruins a little bit as things went on over the 60 plus minutes of the overtime game.


TURNING POINT: The Bruins actually only got outshot by a 15-13 margin in the second period, third period and overtime, but it was clear that they slowed down in terms of attacking and creating chances as things moved on in the game. By the latter half of the game the Bruins were simply trying to hang on to their one-goal lead, and then after that simply trying to hang in there for the point earned by getting to overtime. They managed to do it, but it was a different wave of momentum in the game once the Blues tied things up in the third period on Schwartz’s first goal. After that the Bruins were scrambling and hanging on, and did just enough to hang in there for a single overtime point for the second game in a row.

HONORABLE MENTION: Ryan Donato made it two goals in two games when he stepped into a loose puck created by an Alex Pietrangelo turnover that bounced off referee Brad Watson after he attempted to throw a puck up the middle of the ice. Donato pounced on the fortuitous bounce and rocked a puck on edge past Jake Allen for the game’s first goal and another affirmation that the 21-year-old can both shoot and score. Donato was pretty quiet after that goal, of course, with a couple of shots on net, but it seemed like a big, heavy hit on him by Dmitri Jaskin in the second period kind of quieted the youngster down a little bit. Still, you’ve got to love the production from a player just getting his feet wet at the NHL level.

BY THE NUMBERS: 100 – The number of points for the Bruins after falling in overtime by a 2-1 score to the Blues, and in getting to the century mark the B’s clinched a playoff spot for the second season in a row.

QUOTE TO NOTE: “It’s step one. Going into the season we wanted to make the playoffs and be a Stanley Cup contender. Right now we got in and we’re going to be a contender, right? Now it’s about being in the best position possible going forward.” –Bruce Cassidy, to reporters in St. Louis about clinching the playoff spot on Wednesday night.


Bruins celebrate playoff berth with hilarious video about fans

File photo

Bruins celebrate playoff berth with hilarious video about fans

With a playoff berth in-hand, the Boston Bruins celebrated on Instagram with a playful video about their fans.

The short video put their fans into categories: the hugger, the faithful, the screamer, the loose cannon, the comfortable commentator and the emotional trainwreck.

No matter how the devotees enjoy Bruins games, they can all unit over their hockey team. Here's the vide for your enjoyment.

It's playoff time. Diehards unite. #InOurBlood

A post shared by Boston Bruins (@nhlbruins) on