TORONTO - After missing Friday's practice with a lower-body injury, Patrice Bergeron was a full participant in Saturday morning's pregame skate and will be in the lineup when the Bruins and Maple Leafs renew acquaintances on Saturday night at Scotiabank Arena.
"Feeling good, ready to go. No issues," said Bergeron, who blocked a shot in the closing seconds of overtime on Thursday night against Tampa Bay.
Video: Bergeron good to go in Toronto
While Bergeron is good to go, both David Krejci and Joakim Nordstrom will miss the season's first matchup with Toronto due to upper-body injuries. As such, David Backes will be back in the lineup as the fourth-line right wing after sitting out the last three games as a healthy scratch.
"Been a few games, so excited for the opportunity - not at the expense of teammates being injured or not being able to play, but these opportunities present themselves and what can I do with it? That's up to me tonight," said Backes, who will skate alongside Chris Wagner and Sean Kuraly. "Been working hard, trying to stay ready, and here we go."
Backes has not played since Oct. 10 in Colorado, though Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy explained that the winger's absence from the lineup has more to do with finding the right pieces than his play on the ice. Backes is a plus-1 with eight shots on goal in three games this season.
"He's actually played well," said Cassidy. "We're trying to get a look at where [Brett] Ritchie fits, he's a new addition. They're similar players, so is [Chris] Wagner. We like what Wagner does with Kuraly and Nordy. They're a real good checking line.
"He got pushed out more about some of the other guys with what they bring and less about what he's doing, which is not always fair. But that's the way we're doing it now early on. There was going to be some sort of rotation.
"I respect the fact that he's a good pro. His body language is excellent, he's not dragging it around the room. He's a good leader for us that way."
Backes said his time on the ninth floor has been more of a mental challenge as he tries to get a grasp on where he fits into the Bruins lineup.
"Knowing that I was really ready for the season and kind of hit those speed bumps or hit the pause button," Backes explained. "Want to just get into a rhythm, find some line mates, get that consistency, that chemistry…you want your team to win first and foremost, then you want to be a part of it and contributing to those wins. Everyone in this room feels that."
Video: Backes returns to the lineup in Toronto
The Bruins and Maple Leafs are set to square off for the first time since last spring's seven-game, first-round playoff series. Toronto enters tonight's matchup at 4-3-1 (nine points), having dropped their last game, a 4-3 setback to the Washington Capitals. The Maple Leafs sit two points behind the Bruins in the Atlantic Division standings.
"They're a great team," said Bergeron. "They're a team that's been getting better each and every year, young players that are really coming into their own. They're elite players in this league and we know that's what's in front of us, a lot of depth and well coached. Their system is always in your face and fast and high paced. Those games are always fun to be a part of and looking forward to it."
The Maple Leafs will be missing their own No. 2 center as John Tavares is sidelined for at least two weeks with a broken finger. With Tavares out, Alexander Kerfoot has moved up to center Ilya Mikheyev and Mitch Marner, who along with defenseman Morgan Rielly leads the Leafs with nine points (three goals, six assists) in eight games.
Auston Matthews centers Toronto's top line with Andreas Johnsson and William Nylander as his wingers. Matthews is pacing the Maple Leafs with seven goals.
"They're fast, they create offense," said Cassidy. "We just saw [Brayden] Point, [Nikita] Kucherov, and [Steven] Stamkos [with Tampa], so in this league you're gonna get lines like that every night. I think we've got a good D pair that relishes that role in [Charlie] McAvoy and [Zdeno] Chara.
"You know Bergy's gonna play against him some, Kuraly's gonna play against him some. At the end of the day, we're trying not to focus on just two or three players."
Frederik Andersen will get the start in goal for the Maple Leafs. The netminder is 4-2-0 with a 3.14 goals against average and .893 save percentage this season.
Video: Bruce Cassidy speaks in Toronto
Saturday's Projected Lineup
Brad Marchand - Patrice Bergeron - David Pastrnak
Jake DeBrusk - Charlie Coyle - Karson Kuhlman
Danton Heinen - Par Lindholm - Brett Ritchie
Chris Wagner - Sean Kuraly - David Backes
Zdeno Chara - Charlie McAvoy
Torey Krug - Brandon Carlo
Matt Grzelcyk - Connor Clifton
Scratches: Steven Kampfer, David Krejci (upper body), Joakim Nordstrom (upper body)
Video: Bruins are in Toronto to take on the Maple Leafs