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B's Will Lean on Depth With Backes Suspended

The Bruins forward will make his return on Tuesday in Carolina

by Michael Tolvo @NHLBruins / BostonBruins.com

BOSTON - After 848 career games, there was not much that David Backes had yet to face in the National Hockey League.

After Wednesday's decision from the NHL, Backes will now be forced to sit out three games during his first-ever suspension. When asked about the ban after pregame skate on Thursday, Backes expressed concern over the health of Frans Nielson, who was injured on the play.

"I think first and foremost the fact that Frans Nielson is hurt sucks," said Backes. "I wasn't intending to hurt him. I hope he has a quick and full recovery and is back on the ice soon. I think that is certainly an unintended consequence to the play."

Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy also expressed his feelings on the suspension after pregame skate.

"A little surprised," said Cassidy. "But I don't have a great deal of years of experience on different suspensions…in my estimation we take our medicine, Tommy Wingels will go in the lineup tonight. We'll worry about Saturday on Saturday. We'll kind of forge ahead and that's that I guess."

Backes has been a vital cog to the Bruins both on and off the ice. The 33-year-old has 11 goals and 16 assists for 27 points in 47 games for the B's. Backes had not received a single suspension or fine prior to Wednesday's ruling.

Video: Backes reacts to his three-game suspension

"I have 2,400 hits in the league over 12 seasons," said Backes. "I never even had a hearing let alone a fine, let alone a suspension. That's the world we live in. We'll have to move forward with what's gone on…it's happened. It's past us…I'll be back on the lineup on Tuesday if there is still if there is still a spot for me."

Cassidy also noted that Backes' pristine track record prior to this incident is a reflection of him as a player.

"It tells you he's clean and he can stay on the right side of the line," Cassidy said. "He's been able to play a solid hard game and clean for years."

Despite the unfortunate circumstances, Backes intends to continue to play his style of hockey.

"If there's one error in 2,400 hits," said Backes, "by the time I get 2,400 more, I'll be long out of the game. I'm going to keep playing my style. I've been able to do it cleanly, effectively hard-nosed, stand-up."

Backes, while disappointed, is trying to take any positives from the situation.

"I don't know if there's any silver linings," said Backes, "but if there is, it's three games in three-and-a-half days and I'll be playing again Tuesday and looking forward to that."

Depth Display

Missing key players like Patrice Bergeron, Charlie McAvoy, Tuukka Rask and now David Backes, the Bruins have used their impressive depth to boost their lineup. Despite the absences, the B's have rattled off four consecutive victories dating back to Feb. 27 against the Carolina Hurricanes.

They will try and make it five when they battle the Flyers on Thursday night. Cassidy credits the job of general manager Don Sweeney in acquiring the additional pieces that have sustained the team as injuries or suspensions have cropped up.

"They're great adds by Donnie," said Cassidy of the trade deadline acquisisions. "The other guys are guys that have had success in this league that we knew we would need down the stretch here."

While Rick Nash was acquired to play a key offensive role, Brian Gionta, Wingels, and Nick Holden were considered depth pieces. With the injuries and suspension, they have been forced into action.

"Gionta and Wingels have done a real good job for us…Holden is obviously going to help with Charlie [McAvoy]'s injury," said Cassidy. "All good adds. All good players. Good people that fit well in our locker room.

"I think it's a good job by Donnie to prepare us for that. I think a lot of teams go through it, we just happened to get it right after the trade deadline. We didn't know when those injuries would come, here they are."

With Backes out of the third line center role, Wingels will be shifted into that spot. Wingels centered the third line in his first game with the Bruins against the Carolina Hurricanes, and the 29-year-old notched a goal and an assist in the winning effort.

"The other boys will step up and fill holes," said Backes. "We've done it all year. I've been out for extended times with my colon surgery earlier this year. At the same time, Bergy is out again and guys are able to keep going and collect points, that's' what we need to do now."

Rask Returns

After sitting out the previous two games with a nagging injury, Tuukka Rask will make his return to the Bruins lineup Thursday night against the Philadelphia Flyers.

"He's going in tonight," said Cassidy. "He's ready to go… We will monitor it down the stretch. Make sure he gets enough work too…that'll be as much on him talking to us about how he feels than anything."

In 42 appearances this season, Rask has posted a 26-11-4 record, a .919 save percentage and a 2.27 goals against average.

Opposing View

The Bruins welcome a Philadelphia Flyers team to TD Garden that has used a late season surge to jump firmly into the playoff picture. However, after a 5-2 loss on Wednesday night to the Pittsburgh Penguins - their fourth loss in a row - the Flyers sit in third place in the Metropolitan division with 79 points.

Thursday night's game will be the second of three matchup's between the B's and Flyers. The last meeting went in favor of the Bruins, as Tuukka Rask nabbed a shutout in a 3-0 victory on Dec. 2.

The Flyers are led up front by captain Claude Giroux. The 5-foot-11 center leads the Flyers in goals (23) and points (79). His 79 points rank fourth in the NHL and his 56 assists are tied for third in the league, just behind his teammate Jakub Voracek. Voracek's 72 points are second on the team, and his 57 assists are tied for first in the NHL with Winnipeg's Blake Wheeler.

The Flyers are backstopped by recently acquired Petr Mrazek. The 6-foot-2 goaltender has assumed the starting duties and started seven games since his acquisition from the Red Wings. Mrazek has recorded a 3-3-1 record, a .889 save percentage and 3.08 goals against average with the Flyers.

Projected lineup

Brad Marchand - Riley Nash - David Pastrnak

Jake DeBrusk - David Krejci - Rick Nash

Danton Heinen - Tommy Wingels - Brian Gionta

Tim Schaller - Sean Kuraly - Noel Acciari

 

Zdeno Chara - Brandon Carlo

Torey Krug - Adam McQuaid

Matt Grzelcyk - Kevan Miller

 

Tuukka Rask

Anton Khudobin

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