Bruins

Backes makes quick return after colon surgery

Backes makes quick return after colon surgery

BOSTON – It bears repeating that David Backes, 33, was out only 27 days after having 10 inches of his colon removed in an early November surgery for diverticulitis and returned with a vengeance in the Bruins' 3-2 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning on Wednesday night.

In total, Backes missed just 12 games after the significant surgery and beat his recovery timetable by about a month following a procedure not usually undergone by professional athletes.

BRUINS 3, LIGHTNING 2

Even better news: Backes said after the game that he felt even better than he thought he would while racking up 18:58 of ice time, throwing five hits and diving on the ice to break up plays in an energetic return to the lineup.

“I think I felt better than I expected to feel...four weeks off, you know, 20-something games into the season, everyone is hitting their stride and trying to catch up from 10 days sitting around, not doing anything is a bit of a challenge,” said Backes. “That’s a credit to the training staff and strength staff here. Those skates where you’re alone [are important] and in the practices you’re getting some work done so you can seamlessly transition into the game.

“As I was given permission to do things, I was reporting honestly about how my body was responding and the surgeon and the doctors were honest about letting me progress at a rate that I was comfortable with. There was always a caveat – if it hurts don’t do it, stop and we’ll re-group or maybe take a little more time to heal. I think the benefit [for Backes] might be that the surgery is normally done on older people that are maybe not in great shape. I might’ve been able to beat the norm a little bit that way.”

Either way, it’s dedication to the team and toughness shown in returning so quickly that are not insignificant things coming from a veteran leader on a hockey team. It sets the bar for expectations across the roster and gives the Bruins back their big-bodied power forward who can do a lot of different things on the ice.

“I liked [David] Backes. He was physical; you could tell there was a little rust, which we expected, but just having his presence out there,” said Bruce Cassidy. “We were happy to have [injured players Backes, Brad Marchand and Ryan Spooner] back in the lineup. These are good players in this league.”

Backes didn’t factor into the scoring but did finish with the five hits, seven shot attempts and the kind of toughness displayed that will make a lasting impression on his teammates. As with many things when it comes to Backes, the value of him being in the lineup goes way beyond what simply shows up in the box score. 

Morning Skate: Want any cheese with that whine, Isles?

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Morning Skate: Want any cheese with that whine, Isles?

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while trying to figure out when exactly I’m going to be able to go see the new Star Wars movie.

*The New York Islanders were crying in their beer over the fact that Brad Marchand side-stepped a suspension and claimed it was because John Tavares didn’t writhe around, kick and scream on the ice like a soccer player. The truth is the play wasn’t the kind of thing that’s going to injure a player under normal circumstances but was clearly a late, uncalled for hit. That’s why it got the five-minute major penalty and nothing more. Threatening to give an award-winning acting performance next time in order to try and get a suspension for an opposing player just sounds like crybaby soup from the Isles. Buckle the chin strap and get ready to play a contact sport next time, particularly if you’re Tavares, who was hacking at Charlie McAvoy’s legs with your stick like you’re Paul Bunyan chopping at a piece of wood. It works both ways, you know?

*The Winnipeg Jets continue to be one of the excellent, unsung stories of the NHL’s first half as they really take hold at the top of the Western Conference.

*Here’s a good piece on Jonathan Quick and what his good health has meant to a resurgent Los Angeles Kings team this season.

*Former Boston College standout goalie Thatcher Demko is way ahead of schedule in the Vancouver Canucks organization, but they’re not looking to rush him.

*Here’s a great video of a youngster playing the Star-Spangled Banner on the violin prior to a New York Rangers game at Madison Square Garden. Well done, young lady!

*Pro Hockey Talk as the details of the Ducks and Red Wings getting into a fight on Monday night ahead of the Bruins traveling to Hockeytown for a Wednesday night showdown.

*For something completely different: A list of the 10 actors who could replace Ben Affleck as Batman now that DC has given up the charade that they’re not intending to replace him underneath the cowl.

 

Spooner travels with Bruins but questionable for Detroit

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Spooner travels with Bruins but questionable for Detroit

BRIGHTON, Mass – Ryan Spooner has practiced in each of the past two days, but his status is still in question for the back-to-back Bruins games against the Red Wings and Capitals over the next couple of days.

Spooner has missed the past couple of games with a lower-body injury after playing in the previous five contests following a month-long layoff with a groin injury. The current injury is believed to be similar in nature to the original groin problem and that’s the reason the Bruins are treating it cautiously as they approach Wednesday night’s game in Detroit.

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“He’s practicing fully with the team, and the long and short of it is that he’s still day-to-day. We’ll decide [on Wednesday] but we just want to keep moving forward with him,” said Bruce Cassidy, who also mentioned that Kevan Miller was missing from practice to be with his wife for the birth of their child. “We’ve had a couple of stops and starts with him, so we’re going to manage it to the best of our ability so we’re moving forward [in his recovery]. He’ll travel with the team, and if we decide that he’s in the lineup [vs. the Red Wings] then Donnie [Sweeney] and I will talk about how that’s going to affect our roster.”

Spooner has played 10 games this season, with a goal and four points in the intermittent action. It’s too bad as Spooner has been pretty good when healthy and has played with speed and a higher level of competitiveness this season when he’s actually suited up.

The problem with Spooner’s return at this point, however, is that the Bruins have a third line of Danton Heinen, Riley Nash and David Backes that’s been gaining traction in recent days and had a monster game vs. Arizona last week. A return from injured reserve for Spooner would mean that the Bruins finally have to make a tough roster choice. Either put a player such as Frank Vatrano on waivers or send a young player such as Sean Kuraly down who deserves to stay based on his performance.

With Spooner’s status in question for the next two games, here are the line combos and D-pairings from Tuesday’s practice at Warrior Ice Arena with Tuukka Rask set to get the start Wednesday night in Detroit:

Marchand-Bergeron-Pastrnak

DeBrusk-Krejci-Bjork

Heinen-Nash-Backes

Schaller-Kuraly-Acciari

Vatrano-Spooner-Beleskey

 
Chara-McAvoy

Krug-Carlo

Grzelcyk-Postma

McQuaid

 
Rask

Khudobin