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Backes, Bergeron each nearing return for Bruins

Forwards practice, could be back in lineup later this week

by Matt Kalman / NHL.com Correspondent

BOSTON -- Two of the Boston Bruins' most important forwards each moved closer to his season debut after practicing Tuesday.

Ahead of schedule, David Backes skated with the Bruins at Warrior Ice Arena for the first time since he was diagnosed with diverticulitis Oct. 5. Backes had been scheduled for a re-assessment after two weeks, and a return to the lineup in 3-4 weeks.

Patrice Bergeron, who sustained a lower-body injury during practice on Oct. 3 and has yet to play this season, also skated but was wearing a red non-contact jersey.

It's possible Backes and Bergeron each could return when the Bruins host the Vancouver Canucks at TD Garden on Thursday (7 p.m. ET; SN360, TVA Sports, NESN, NHL.TV), coach Bruce Cassidy said. Boston is 2-3-0 without Backes and Bergeron in the lineup.

"I think we took a nice step today being able to skate with the guys," Backes said Tuesday. I was like a kid in a candy store before practice."

Backes described the symptoms of diverticulitis, a painful intestinal condition. He said the pain prevented him from being able to stand. He spent three days in the hospital and then four days at home without being able to take part in any activity. He said he was on a liquid diet for much of that time and lost 10 pounds.

As soon as he was cleared by doctors, Backes went to the Bruins practice facility to ride the bike and break a sweat. He has skated for the past four days, but isn't sure when he'll be back in the lineup.

"So to pick up from not sweating for six, seven days to get back, to be on the ice, to feeling the way I feel today ... I got a little work in while the guys were away, so progress certainly," he said. "Return? We'll see."

Backes said doctors were uncertain of the cause of his illness, and it's something he'll have to monitor.

"Trying to gather information and be as smart as I can," he said, "so that I am available as often as possible and as productive as possible."

Bergeron skated on his own for 10 minutes before practice Tuesday and then joined his teammates. Though the color of his jersey meant no contact, he definitely came into contact with teammates several times during drills. He left practice before the Bruins began 3-on-3 drills down low.

"Today was one of those where I wanted to see where I was at," Bergeron said. "We felt like were comfortable with doing drills and being with the team. Didn't necessarily know what kind of practice [Cassidy] had for us. So I went along and felt good, so kept going."

Bergeron said he's feeling stronger and more comfortable, and expects to be able to dress for a game soon.

The Bruins had no update on forward Ryan Spooner (lower body) or defenseman Adam McQuaid (lower body), who left early during Boston's 3-1 loss to the Vegas Golden Knights on Sunday.

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