BRIGHTON -- In a development that was certainly much sooner than originally anticipated, David Backes has returned to the ice just a matter of weeks after having 10 inches of colon removed during surgery for diverticulitis. It remains to be seen how gradual a process it will be for the 33-year-old to actually return to game action given his original timetable for recovery was eight weeks following the early November procedure, but it seems like it might end up being ahead of the two months Backes was initially expected to be sidelined.
For his part, Backes was happy to be back skating with his teammates and pushing his recovering body after feeling pretty sluggish for the first few days following surgery. He confirmed he’d been skating for a couple of days while the team was on the West Coast, but Monday was his first team doing anything post-surgery with the rest of the team.
“It’s good to be back with the guys and to be around the room, and to have seen the kind of resiliency that these guys showed on the road trip. The back half of the road trip was impressive,” said Backes, who has an assist in five games with the Bruins before succumbing to the surgery. “To be on the ice and moving around after sitting around doing nothing for too long where you don’t think you’re going to see the light at the end of the tunnel, it feels good.
“The doc’s advice is that if it doesn’t hurt then I can keep moving forward and add more of a workload on, so that’s the update for today. It’s still non-contact, but we’ll keep moving along and hopefully I’ll be back doing what I love to do on a regular basis. I haven’t been notified that the timeline has changed at all, so I’m just going to keep putting in the work. The more I seem to do the work the better it is, and I seem to be able to do a little more each day. So those are all positive signs.”
For the Bruins it’s clearly a morale booster to see the big power forward back doing regular hockey activities, and serving notice that he’ll be bringing his size, strength, leadership and physicality back to a B’s team that definitely needs him. Clearly the return of another high-end forward would also immensely help a Bruins team that’s still very undermanned up front, but it would appear there will be some other B’s forwards getting back prior to Backes.
Brad Marchand and Ryan Spooner appear poised to return to full practice on Tuesday with a possible return to the lineup not too far beyond that after all three injured forwards took part in Monday’s optional skate at Warrior Ice Arena.
Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while still not believing what I saw in last night’s Patriots/Steelers game. Boy, has Tom Brady been a treat to watch over the course of his career.
*Pro Hockey Talk asks if Alex Ovechkin is clutch. Why do I feel like this could develop into an “Is Joe Flacco Elite?” level of debate?
*Nashville D-man (it still feels weird writing that) PK Subban is planning to use his creativity to help grow the game of hockey that he loves so very much.
*Erik Karlsson is getting to the top of his game at a rather appropriate time as trade rumors start to swirl with him along with a massive price tag on his next contract. The question is this: Who has the prospects and the cap room to make a move for Karlsson work, and what would they have to give up to the Sens in order to get him? Multiple blue chip prospects, first round pick and an established, All-Star-level player would be my starting point.
*Speaking of the Ottawa Senators, Vice Sports says that the Senators fan base deserves a better owner than Eugene Melnyk.
*Ryan Reaves and Kris Letang headline a list of five big questions facing the Pittsburgh Penguins through the rest of the season.
*For something completely different: A Spoiler-rific take on the Last Jedi, and the kind of things the next movie must do in order to make this movie more palatable to the hard-core fan base.
BRIGHTON, Mass – The Bruins have enjoyed a lot of down time over the first two months of the NHL regular season, but that’s beginning to change now as they enter the holiday season. Sure they will get the three-day break around the Christmas holiday just like everybody else around the NHL, but they’re heading into that three-day respite with a schedule of seven games in 11 days, including back-to-back games Columbus and Buffalo kicking off tonight at TD Garden.
It’s good that this kind of busy sequence didn’t come down when the B’s were injury ravaged over the first few months of the season, but there’s never an easy time to play four 60-minute effort games in a span of six days, including a short rest matinee on Saturday vs. the Red Wings.
Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy will undoubtedly roll lines a little more liberally and probably rotate some players into his lineup, but he’s going with the same forwards and D-men in front of Tuukka Rask on Monday night vs. the Blue Jackets. The Bruins are doing what they can during a dense portion of the schedule, and making certain they’re ready to give their best after dropping back-to-back games against the Capitals and Rangers last week.
“You just need to make it easy on ourselves by not playing a hard game, and not doing damage to ourselves to make things more difficult,” said Brad Marchand. “You take care of the puck and keep it simple, and then whenever you get a day off you need to rest up and recover. That’s all you can really do.”
So Rask will get the nod with Anton Khudobin likely to start against the Buffalo Sabres on Tuesday night, and the lineup will be exactly the same as vs. the Rangers with Anders Bjork sitting for the second game in a row: