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Backes Has Had to Battle Through

Leg laceration is latest blow in year filled with adversity

by Eric Russo @NHLBruins /

ST. LOUIS - David Backes doesn't want to imagine what may have happened had he not been inside the confines of an NHL arena with access to top-tier medical personnel and equipment. Had the gash to his right leg happened during a summer skate back home, the results could have been far more serious.

Luckily for Backes, he didn't have to go far for some assistance as his thigh bled after being sliced open by Yanni Gourde's skate blade on Saturday night in Tampa Bay.

"By the time I was off the ice, thankfully - I don't know if it's thankfully or not - Brandon Carlo had a cut [above] his eye, so Tampa's doc was already in our room with gloves on ready to suture him up," Backes said at Scottrade Center on Tuesday afternoon.

"I was able to go right in there, he had gloves on, he stuck his hands right in there and tried to clot whatever was spitting and was able to do that, get me sutured up, no worse for wear. Let this thing heal up so it doesn't infected and I can get back on the ice."

Backes, whose cut required 17 stitches to close, knew something was wrong immediately after reaching down to find his leg covered in blood. He realized then it was crucial to get off the ice as quickly as possible and into the hands of the Bruins trainer Don DelNegro and the team's medical staff.

"I felt an impact with my leg and then I looked down and saw just skate blade there so when I touched it, anything I touched turned red right away," said Backes. "I said, 'Well, there's a lot of blood coming out of there, I better get my butt off the ice.' A little panic with how much blood was coming out, with what I was seeing and what I was touching.

"Probably doesn't help that I was at the end of a 30-40 second shift at the time. My heart rate was probably racing and pumping stuff through there pretty good."

The 32-year-old forward is walking with a bit of a limp and says the issue now is making sure the cut does not get infected. Backes - who made the trip due to previously scheduled family arrangements in the city he called home for 10 seasons with the Blues - did not skate during Tuesday's practice, but expects to be back in action sometime over the next 5-10 days.

"Just for the wound to heal so we don't have an infection which persists and creates a bigger injury," said Backes. "It's a little sore, feels like a Charlie horse, but whenever the docs say it's OK, as far as this being closed up enough, then it should be fine. I don't know if that's five days, seven days, 10 days, probably somewhere in that realm I'll be back functional again."

It has been a tumultuous year for the 12-year NHL veteran, who missed nearly a month earlier this season with diverticulitis and a subsequent surgery to curb the illness, which required that a large portion of his colon be removed.

Backes was back on the ice well ahead of schedule and hit quite a groove upon his return in December, forming a dependable two-way trio with Riley Nash and Danton Heinen on Boston's third line. But his season hit a rough patch once again earlier this month when he was suspended for three games for interference.

The B's alternate captain returned for one game, before being ejected for a hit on Vincent Trocheck during the first period of Boston's loss to Florida last Thursday. The following game in Tampa Bay, Backes scored Boston's second goal, but was cut only moments later after playing just under six minutes.

"It's been trying, I'd say," said Backes, who has 28 points (12 goals, 16 assists) in 50 games this season. "Obviously coming back from the injury and finally getting back into a little bit of a rhythm, then the suspension, then play a game and a period and get kicked out of that game and play another period and now a leg laceration.

"In the scheme of things, I think timing-wise I'll be back in plenty of time for playoffs and get my stride again and we'll be hopefully a lot of healthy bodies back in a few games to tune up for that second season that we're really eyeing up."

Class Still in Session

One night after his spectacular NHL debut, which included a goal and two assists, Ryan Donato was back in Boston to be a student again. The Harvard junior had a previous class commitment as he continues towards gaining his degree in sociology. The 21-year-old was expected to join the team in St. Louis on Tuesday night.

"He had permission granted to go to class," said Cassidy. "He'll join us tonight and be ready to go [on Wednesday]. That was a commitment he had."

Walking Wounded

In addition to Backes and Donato, the Bruins were also without Patrice Bergeron, Zdeno Chara, Jake DeBrusk, Torey Krug, Charlie McAvoy, and Rick Nash for Tuesday's practice. Backes was the only injured player to travel, while Krug was given a maintenance day.

"Today was going to be [maintenance] for a couple guys that played a lot of minutes…talked to a few guys, tomorrow's optional, take one or the other," said Cassidy. "[Krug] got off early. I assume he'll go back out in the morning."

Bergeron (fractured right foot) continued to skate back home in Boston and, according to Cassidy, is "getting closer" to a return to game action.

Adam McQuaid, who left Monday night's game early, was on the ice for practice and "seems to be OK," per Cassidy.

Video: Bruce Cassidy speaks to reporters in St. Louis

Szwarz, Postma Recalled

With injuries dotting the roster, Jordan Szwarz and Paul Postma were recalled from Providence on an emergency basis on Tuesday afternoon. After playing a tad over 10 minutes on Monday night, Anton Blidh was returned to the P-Bruins.

Postma is in line to be the extra defenseman against the Blues on Wednesday, while Szwarz will be the 12th forward. Szwarz has three assists in 10 games for Boston this season, but has not played with the Black & Gold since Nov. 26.

"You're always itching and clawing to get the opportunity," said Szwarz, Providence's third-leading scorer with 44 points in 46 games. "You never wanna see guys go down with injuries, but that's the case up here and it's given me an opportunity to get back up here. Hopefully I can make the best of it.

"This is a team that's in an intense playoff push right now. It will be some intense hockey if I get in, I think the mindset just has to be play like its' a regular game really."

Video: Jordan Szwarz reacts to his recall in St. Louis

Opposing Views

After just one game at home, the Bruins are off on another lengthy four-game road trip, beginning on Wednesday night in St. Louis, before stops in Dallas, Minnesota, and Winnipeg. Cassidy expects the playoff-like intensity to continue each night.

"It's four games, kind of rolling through them, different city every night, different challenge," said Cassidy. "[St. Louis is] a team battling. Dallas is battling….Minnesota and Winnipeg look a little more solidified, but still a playoff team, but gonna be a tough test every night."

The Blues have won two straight and four of five. They sit 3 points out of the final playoff spot in the West.

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