David Backes logged zero minutes of ice time in Thursday’s 4-1 loss to the Maple Leafs, but the veteran didn’t need a viewing spot on the Bruins’ bench to diagnose the results from Boston’s lackluster playoff opener.
“I think Game 1 was a slap in the face,” he noted Saturday.
While Backes watched above from press level as a healthy scratch, the Bruins found themselves playing right into the Maple Leafs’ trap — winded from getting into too many track meets, and wincing from a surprisingly stout Toronto defensive effort.
Needing a response after Boston was bullied out of the offensive zone for most of the night, Bruce Cassidy turned to Backes — the 34-year-old power forward who, despite another dip in his offensive production this season, still offers plenty of value when inserted in the lineup.
“Something we were lacking - we addressed it,” Cassidy said. “We needed him to do it.”
Boston’s bench boss wasn’t looking for the 2019 redux of the Hanson Brothers when No. 42 hopped over the boards in the opening stanza of Saturday’s Game 2 rematch against the Leafs, but Backes didn’t need much direction in his return to game action.
His objective? Keeping things simple and play a straight-line game — and if it involves skating through a few Toronto skaters in the process? So be it.
"(I) was looking forward to this game ever since I was told I wasn’t going to be an active participant in Thursday’s game,” Backes said. “So I got to channel that I think in the right way in a constructive, controlled manner and was able to make a little bit of impact tonight.”
Backes might have taken his benching in stride on Thursday, but ‘controlled’ was far from the word that most would use to describe what Backes helped usher back into the Bruins’ DNA on Saturday night.