Backes not expected to face discipline beyond match penalty

AP Photo

Backes not expected to face discipline beyond match penalty

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. 

MORE - Reimer dominates B's, Backes gets ejected

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 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.


Bruins expect a difficult closeout challenge from Leafs

Bruins expect a difficult closeout challenge from Leafs

BRIGHTON, Mass – The Bruins have their share of inexperience and youth on their roster as they head into tonight's potential closeout game against the Toronto Maple Leafs up 3-1 in their best-of-seven series.

Still, they also have a ton of top-heavy Stanley Cup playoff experience at the top of their roster, and those experienced veterans certainly should be at the forefront tonight. Grizzled vets Zdeno Chara, Patrice Bergeron, David Krejci, Brad Marchand, Adam McQuaid and Tuukka Rask have closed out plenty of series. Plus, they’ve also seen the other side where closeout chances turn into epic collapses.

So they’re focused on the here and now with a chance to end things on home ice in five games against a Leafs team looking for answers after a gritty Game 4 defeat.

“We all know the fourth [win in a series] is the most difficult, so we’re going to have to give our best effort,” said Bruins defenseman Adam McQuaid, who blocked a shot with his wrist in the closing minutes of Game 4 while paying his personal price for a victory. “The other team’s life is on the line and they’re going to bring everything they’ve got, so we need to have the same kind of attitude going into it to match that.”

Clearly, it will be a tougher Toronto team to beat while getting Nazem Kadri back from suspension. He should certainly be motivated to try and make a difference after earning himself a three-game removal from the playoff series. It’s also a Leafs teams under the gun with William Nylander dropped to the fourth line while Connor Brown and Zach Hyman have been elevated to the top line to give Auston Matthews a little more room to operate out on the ice.

Expect Boston’s leadership to keep the team’s eyes on the prize with the singular focus you need to close out a team in the postseason and that means full-speed ahead no matter what is being thrown at you.

“Every year, every series, every team is different. You’ve got to be mentally and physically ready to play your best,” said Chara.

Chara has been a strong factor in the series. He's held Matthews to one goal in four games and it’s probably part of the reason Nylander was moved off the wing on a top line where Chara’s physicality was neutralizing him. With the series back in Boston and Bruce Cassidy controlling the matchups, Matthews will continue to see a heavy dose of the Bruins captain and Boston will hope to ignite an offense that scored 12 goals in the first two games at TD Garden.

”Obviously, the last one is always the hardest. If you look at other games around the league, Pittsburgh and Nashville, they had a chance [and couldn’t do it on Friday night]. So it isn’t going to be easy,” said Krejci. “But at the same time, you’ve done the job all season, so you’ve got to stay in the moment and just get it done shift by shift. That’s what we’re going to do tonight.

“Their season is on the line, but so is ours. Momentum shifts very quickly in the playoffs, so you just need to go out and focus on the next shift. Obviously, you want to have a good start, stay in the moment and use the crowd to your advantage. It’s going to be buzzing tonight, it’s going to be exciting, but at the same time stay focused and stay on the task that’s in front of you.”

It was Krejci that was the focal point of the 2010 collapse to the Flyers when he was knocked out of the series with a dislocated wrist in Game 4 when the Bruins were up 3-0, so nobody knows it first-hand more than No. 46. The fourth win against a team in the playoffs is always the most arduous and sometimes takes the best execution of the series, so expect to see the very best in Game 5 from a Bruins team that’s answered the bell at just about every turn this season.  



Morning Skate: Talking B's, Bergeron and the Hamburglar

Morning Skate: Talking B's, Bergeron and the Hamburglar

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while in disbelief that the Hamburglar is getting a second go-round in NHL infamy. Good for him.

*In the interest of self-promotion, here’s Saturday’s 98.5 The Sports Hub's Hockey Show with yours truly joining Ryan Johnston, Bob Beers, Judd Sirott and Bill Jaffe to talk all things Black and Gold leading up to Saturday night’s Game 5 with the B’s having a chance to close out the series.

*Auston Matthews led the rest of the NHL as the top-selling NHL jersey for 2018, edging out Sidney Crosby and Connor McDavid for top honors. So he has that going for him, which is nice.

*Speaking of the Hamburglar, the mics picked up some of his Avalanche teammates colorfully excited about the way that Andrew Hammond played in goal last night.

*Speaking of the Maple Leafs, Damien Cox is coming with an elbow off the top turnbuckle for Frederik Andersen and the way he’s played in the series vs. the Bruins 

*Interesting piece on hockey development for NHL players, and how Torey Krug taking his time turned out to be key for the late-blooming, small-statured D-man.

*Carolina Hurricanes coach Bill Peters is flying the coop there and using his option to explore other NHL coaching opportunities while leaving with “no regrets.”

*For something completely different: Apparently way more men than women quit amid the harsh Boston Marathon conditions this past week, so here’s a story about why men are quitters and women are not. Okay then.