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Bruins bits: Backes on suspension, McAvoy moves on

The NHL handed down a three-game suspension for Bruins' David Backes for interference, a harsh penalty but one that fits previous punishments for other players.

Last night, Darren Dreger surmised that David Backes’ three-game suspension for a hit on Frans Nielsen was “harsh,” and he was “sure the Bruins don’t agree.”

(Check Dreger’s analysis and footage of the hit above this post’s headline.)

That might be true, but Backes had a measured response to the league’s decision. While he didn’t outright agree, he acknowledged that he must accept it, that he regrets injuring Nielsen, and that he describes the check as an awkward, “one-off” hit. Backes also notes that the Bruins have been through this before, with injuries and suspensions forcing other players to step up, as they will need to again:

In case you missed it, here’s the official explanation from the NHL:

Backes, of course (or as usual?), isn’t the only Bruins player who will be sidelined. Patrice Bergeron is still out with what appears to be a foot injury, while Charlie McAvoy eyes an unclear window of recovery for his knee issue.

McAvoy met with the media today, mixing some optimism (his goal is to play in some regular season games, however realistic that goal might be) with notes about how he doesn’t want to rush back and increase the odds of aggravating the injury. So, ultimately, the beyond-his-years 20-year-old stands as a mystery for the B’s:

In the cases of McAvoy and Bergeron in particular, these are players who are extremely difficult to replace.

Still, between bringing in Brian Gionta to trading for Rick Nash and Tommy Wingels, the Bruins have done their best to provide options when injuries and/or suspensions crop up. If nothing else, the Bruins probably won’t be caught off guard when the playoffs present the usual slew of bumps, bruises, and worse.

The Bruins hope to stick with the Lightning in the race for the Atlantic Division crown as they face the Philadelphia Flyers in Boston tonight. They might not be the healthier team, but they’re at least more rested, as the Flyers fell to the Penguins in an entertaining contest last night.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.