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Backes Returns to the Ice

Veteran forward makes first appearance since bout with diverticulitis

by Eric Russo @NHLBruins / BostonBruins.com

BOSTON - David Backes did not have the most pleasant view of Opening Night. Instead of skating around the ice at TD Garden, he was staring at the building from the window of his hospital room.

The standard definition television he was forced to watch the Bruins battle the Predators on didn't help.  

"That's a tough emotional swing to swallow," said Backes, who was sidelined by a bout of diverticulitis a few days before the opener.

"Watching at home is never easy when you've worked all summer and feel like you've kind of changed yourself a little bit to have a lot of success this season, and then have that false start to begin with, it's tough to deal with mentally."

Backes missed the first five games as he recovered from the illness, but returned to the ice on Tuesday morning for practice at Warrior Ice Arena and is hoping to be back in the lineup on Thursday against Vancouver.

"I think coming back and having the extra energy today…the past is the past, and we have to look at what the next step is to try to be the best player I can be to help us win games, and that's what the focus is," said Backes.

"Progress certainly. Return, we'll see. And long-term prognosis, we'll have to discuss with the really smart [medical] guys."

With the team on the road for nearly a week, Backes, who was unable to partake in any physical activity for six or seven days, worked with the team's medical staff and skating coach to get back into shape.

"Being able to skate with the guys, I was like a kid at the candy store before practice," said Backes, who lost nearly 10 pounds through the ordeal. "For me personally, felt good out there. It's nice to be back on the ice and smiling most of the day, just knowing that hopefully I'll be playing ice hockey in the future"

Backes, who still is not quite sure what spurred the illness, sought advice from former Patriots offensive lineman Matt Light, who battled Crohn's disease, another intestinal problem, later in his career.

"Got his insight on professional athletes and dealing with these kinds of issues," said Backes. "Trying to information gather and being as smart as I can so that I can be available as often as possible and be as productive as possible when I am available."

Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy said Backes is a possibility to return to the lineup this week.

"He skated a little when we were away…we'll consult with the medical staff going forward, his plan," said Cassidy. "Potentially [will] be an option Thursday. That should sort itself out over the next few days."

Bergeron Better

Patrice Bergeron rejoined the group for practice, as well, albeit in a red non-contact sweater. Bergeron participated for most of the session before leaving ahead of some three-on-three work at the end of practice.

"Feel like everything is getting better now, feeling stronger on the ice and more comfortable. Hopefully game action is closer rather than later," said Bergeron.

"It's a lot more fun to be with the guys than watching and sitting around and go out on my own. Today was one of those where I wanted to see where I was at."

Like Backes, Bergeron is a possibility to return to the lineup on Thursday night.

"Bergy did a little more today, that was by schedule," said Cassidy. "He wasn't going to do the full practice, so progressing well. Again, Thursday's a possibility for him."

Video: All of Tuesday's Bruins News in 60 seconds

McQuaid, Spooner Miss

Adam McQuaid and Ryan Spooner, both of whom left Sunday's game in Vegas with injuries, did not skate on Tuesday.

"Nothing yet," Cassidy said when asked for an update. "They're getting looked at this afternoon, should know more in the morning whether they'll be joining us for practice."

Heinen Heads Down

After being one the last cuts of training camp, Danton Heinen arrived in Providence hoping to seize the soonest opportunity to prove himself. That opportunity came early, as after just one game in Providence, the 6-foot-1 forward was called up to the NHL.

Heinen wasted no time making his mark, recording his first NHL point in his first NHL game of the season with an assist against the Colorado Avalanche on Oct. 11. Heinen followed that up with a two-assist effort against the Arizona Coyotes in a 6-2 victory, where he showed good chemistry playing alongside Tim Schaller and Sean Kuraly. Heinen averaged 13:56 minutes per game over his 3-game stint, and his 3 assists is tied for second on the Bruins.

But with Bergeron and Backes nearing returns, Heinen was sent to Providence on Tuesday.

"He did play well, he did what was asked of him, did his job," said Cassidy. "Part of that is we feel guys are getting closer, so we'll see. If they're not ready by Thursday, then we may see Danton again. That's a decision we'll have to make as we get closer to Thursday."

Fellow forward Austin Czarnik was also assigned to the P-Bruins on Tuesday. Czarnik has appeared in two games with Boston this season.

Tuesday's Practice Lines

FORWARDS

Brad Marchand - Patrice Bergeron - Anders Bjork
Jake DeBrusk - David Krejci - David Pastrnak
Tim Schaller - Riley Nash - David Backes
Matt Beleskey - Sean Kuraly - Frank Vatrano
Ryan White

DEFENSEMEN

Brandon Carlo, Zdeno Chara, Torey Krug, Charlie McAvoy, Kevan Miller, Paul Postma

GOALIES

Tuukka Rask and Anton Khudobin

Michael Tolvo contributed to this report.

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