By Ty Anderson, 985TheSportsHub.com
In need of a spark in their second-round series against the Blue Jackets, the Bruins are expected to throw up The Backes Signal in the middle of a series for the second time this postseason on Thursday night.
At least that’s the indication after Wednesday’s on-ice session in Columbus, which saw Backes skate to the right of Jake DeBrusk and David Krejci on the Black and Gold’s second line.
“That’s the hope,” Backes said about playing in Thursday’s Game 4 at Nationwide Arena. “Playing alongside [Krejci] and [DeBrusk] this morning, I don’t know if that’s the way it’ll shake out — but good to be on a line and expecting to be playing and trying to help these guys and our team win a Game 4 to even the series up.”
.@dbackes42 on his possible return for Game 4: "That’s the hope. Playing alongside Krech and JD this morning. I don’t know if that’s the way it’ll shake out...but good to be on a line and expecting to be playing." pic.twitter.com/YVQDLXSC2t— Boston Bruins (@NHLBruins) May 1, 2019
For Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy, the decision to (likely) move the 35-year-old Backes back into the lineup comes with the idea that he could be a solid net-front presence that will help the B’s beat Blue Jackets netminder Sergei Bobrovsky.
“Get some traffic in there without bumping [Bobrovsky],” Cassidy said of the formula for breaking out of their recent goal-scoring drought. “[Backes] will bring that. After that, he’s just a good solid player.”
It will be interesting to see if Backes indeed sticks on a second line with Jake DeBrusk and David Krejci, as this line had an extremely limited run during the regular season, and scored just one goal on 24 shots in 52:58 of five-on-five time together.
Cassidy, never one to hesitate when it comes to tinkering with his combinations, would have some options at his disposal should the DeBrusk-Krejci-Backes trio prove ineffective, with Danton Heinen, Marcus Johansson, and David Pastrnak all having recent experience playing with the DeBrusk-Krejci combination this season.
The call to Backes will likely come at the expense of Karson Kuhlman.
Backes has one assist, 16 hits, and nine shots on goal in four playoff games this spring.