BOSTON - The Bruins were again struck by the injury bug, this time to veteran forward David Backes. Backes will undergo surgery on Thursday to remove a portion of his colon due to a recent episode of diverticulitis. The expected recovery time is approximately eight weeks.
Backes, who was filling in at center for the injured David Krejci, marks another key early-season loss for the Bruins, who host the Vegas Golden Knights in their inaugural trip to Boston on Thursday night at TD Garden.
"It's tough to see him be out of the lineup for a little bit of time…" said teammate Patrice Bergeron. "We knew it was a possibility but we didn't know until I talked to him [on Tuesday] and he told me it was going to happen. It's really unfortunate."
While his contributions on the ice will be missed, his presence in the locker room and his role as a mentor to the young players will be difficult to replace.
"It's tough," said Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy, "He's a leader on the team. He plays all situations…We lose a good soldier. Part of the intangibles is what we'll miss the most. He's pretty good at getting us back on track and being an on-ice big brother for some of our young guys.
"As much as he brings to the table with his play, it's what he brings for comfort level for his teammates as well that we'll miss."
In the absence of Backes, the Bruins recalled forward Jordan Szwarz from Providence to add an element of grit and energy to the lineup.
"He can play both center and right wing," said Cassidy. "That's where we're gonna plug him in and that's where Backs played essentially. He's played well there, he had a good playoff run last year…he's likely to play [against Vegas]."
Video: With Backes out, next man up for B's
The upstart Vegas Golden Knights enter their matchup with the Bruins sitting in fourth in the NHL in points. The fledgling franchise is coming off consecutive losses for the first time in their brief history, as they dropped a 6-3 contest against the New York Islanders, before falling 6-4 to the New York Rangers on Tuesday.
While the Bruins have lost both Tuukka Rask and Anton Khudobin for stretches during this young season, the Golden Knights goaltending situation has been hit even harder by injuries. Vegas' top three goaltenders (Marc-Andre Fleury, Malcolm Subban and Oscar Dansk) have all been placed on the IR, and the Golden Knights are the only NHL team to have had four different goalies appear in a game. Twenty-four-year old Maxime Lagace, who was undrafted, has seen action in each of the last two games.
Offensively, Vegas is headlined by prized expansion draft selection James Neal. The 6-foot-2, 221-pound left-winger leads the Golden Knights with 7-3-10 totals, but has only scored once in his previous seven games. Behind Neal, former Bruins Reilly Smith (4-5-9) and Colin Miller (2-6-8) rank second and tied for third in points, respectively.
Wait, There's More
- David Krejci and Anton Khudobin both missed practice again on Wednesday with their respective injuries. "Dobby's day-to-day, Krech is week-to-week," said Cassidy. "Dobby we were hoping would be quick, but hasn't healed as quickly as we'd like. He wasn't able to go today and we'll see where he's at [during Thursday's pregame skate]."
- The Golden Knights won the teams' inaugural matchup, 3-1, in Vegas on Oct. 15. Former Bruin Subban picked up his first career victory in the game, during which he made 21 saves.