SUNRISE, Florida – Just a couple of games removed from serving the first suspension of his NHL career, David Backes was again potentially in the crosshairs of the league on Thursday night after a hit on Vincent Trocheck. Backes was given a match penalty for hitting from behind on a first period neutral zone body check on Trocheck that definitely caused a big collision, and got the Bruins power forward ejected from the game early in a 3-0 loss to the Florida Panthers at the BB&T Center.
A match penalty comes with an automatic review from the league as to the appropriateness of further disciplinary action, but a couple of sources indicated to NBCSportsBoston.com that Backes wasn’t likely to receive anything further beyond the established match penalty.
The hit was instead being viewed as something similar to the Patrick Hornqvist/Charlie McAvoy hit where Trocheck “assumed a posture that made head contact on an otherwise full body check unavoidable.” Trocheck had his head down with the puck and curled back toward his own end unexpectedly rather than dumping the puck in the Bruins zone, and that left a hustling Backes in a position where he couldn’t really avoid a big collision with the Florida forward near the middle of the ice.
Also working in Backes’ favor was the fact that Trocheck wasn’t hurt in the collision, and instead jumped right on the ensuing Florida power play after Backes had been bounced from the game. Put it all together and the Bruins avoided losing another player while already missing Patrice Bergeron, Charlie McAvoy, Zdeno Chara and Jake DeBrusk with injuries.
“I was tracking back through the middle expecting the puck to be dumped in, and I was trying to be the first guy back. All of a sudden [Trocheck] cuts to the middle, I’m going to get the puck and he just kind of turns into me,” said Backes, who had just returned to the lineup on Tuesday after serving a three-game suspension for a hit on Frans Nielsen that concussed the Red Wings forward. “I felt like my shoulder was down and I hit him through the shoulder. He’s much smaller than I am, but the good thing is he was right back out there and didn’t miss a shift of uninterrupted play.
“I had two periods to think about it, and it’s the kind of hit that I’ve been doing for years. So if this is kind of the new NHL, the new standard, then I hope that I can have my old league back. If I try to get into a toe drag competition with guys like Trocheck then I’m going to lose, so the physical part of the game, I think, still needs to be there.”
Now Backes and the Bruins can concentrate on a big showdown with the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday night where points become all-important between the two teams still vying for the Atlantic Division crown.