BRIGHTON, Mass – Bruce Cassidy didn’t waste any time at all confirming that 34-year-old David Backes will return to the Bruins lineup for Saturday’s important game against the Buffalo Sabres now that he’s served his three-game suspension. Backes was dinged for three games by the NHL Department of Player Safety after his check to the head of Blake Coleman late in the Dec. 27 loss to the New Jersey Devils, and ended up missing the Winter Classic as a result.
Now, he’s back and Backes doesn’t plan on changing the way he does business, despite getting his second suspension in as many years from the league. That means Backes won’t be shying away from the physicality and finishing his checks that has always been part and parcel with his NHL career, and it's something an undersized, young forward group desperately needs from him.
“I tried to stay fresh and watching the game from up top gives you a little bit of perspective, and you see a little bit of a different angle. Hopefully, I can use that knowledge to get back and be productive right away,” said Backes. “It’s my first time being suspended for the second time, so I really don’t know how to approach it.
“I think I’ve really adjusted my game to the way that the rules are, and there was no malicious intent to my hit. If I was head-hunting or looking for some blood, then maybe I’d need to look in the mirror. But I don’t think that was the case. We’re trying to tie a game up late in the game and I’m just a little ill-timed with my hit. If I take hitting out of my game, I’ll be pretty useless in pretty quick order. So I need to play my game and let the chips fall where they may.”
The lines weren’t set at practice Friday given that David Krejci was missing to be with his family after the Thursday morning birth of his son, but it did appear that Backes may get one of his first looks of the season on the second line with Jake DeBrusk and Krejci. Otherwise, it was status quo as Charlie McAvoy missed another practice with his lower body injury and it looked like Colby Cave and Steve Kampfer may be trending toward healthy scratches.
Here are the projected line combos and D-pairings vs. the Sabres based on Friday morning practice:
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