David Backes received some good news on what was his 35th birthday on Wednesday afternoon.
The 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs hasn’t exactly been all that kind to the veteran forward — who has only appeared in four of Boston’s 10 games so far this postseason. Inserted into Boston’s lineup ahead of Game 2 against Toronto to add a physical punch, Backes’ impact started to wane as he continued to earn starts. In his last outing on Game 5 against the Leafs, Backes only logged 4:36 of TOI, with Bruce Cassidy keeping him on the bench for the entirety of the third period at TD Garden.
But after sitting out the last five games, Backes was back in the mix during Wednesday’s practice at Nationwide Arena. A extra skater for most of the last week, Backes was set to finally join a set line — and a top-six group no less.
While Cassidy noted that any lineup decisions will not be set in stone until Thursday morning, Backes skated on Boston’s second-line grouping of David Krejci and Jake DeBrusk — the latest move by Cassidy in an effort to get the Bruins’ offense back on track after stalling out once again during Tuesday's 2-1 loss to the Blue Jackets in Game 3.
It’s a task easier said than done, especially given how Sergei Bobrovsky has performed as of late — with the Columbus netminder posting a .956 save percentage over his last two outings.
With just seven goals scored over 70 games played during the regular season, Backes may not seem to be the logical top-six addition that Boston needs in order to start getting the puck past Bobrovsky.
But at this point, Cassidy and the Bruins believe they have enough skill in their top six. What they’re missing — and what Backes provides — is a big body that’s going to be awfully hard to knock out of the blue paint, despite the Jackets’ best efforts in the O-zone.