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David Backes could play for Bruins on Thursday

Forward returns to practice after missing two games because of concussion

by Matt Kalman / Correspondent

BOSTON -- Boston Bruins forward David Backes could be ready to return to the lineup against the Edmonton Oilers at TD Garden on Thursday (7 p.m. ET, SN, TVA Sports, NESN, NHL.TV).

Backes practiced Wednesday for the first time since he sustained a concussion at the Buffalo Sabres on Dec. 29. Backes, who has nine goals and 10 assists in 33 games, has missed two games. He was said to be out indefinitely Dec. 31.

Bruins coach Claude Julien said Backes' status for Thursday was undetermined, but Backes was hopeful he could face the Oilers.

"I want to play," Backes said. "I wanted to play the next game against Buffalo and get some retribution for not being able to finish that game. There's a difference between your head and your heart though. You've got to be smart about these things, you've got one brain, and with all the stuff that's come out, we're well-educated and the protocol's in place for a reason. 

"I want to play [Thursday] night, I want to play all the games, but we'll make good decisions and have a conversation with the medical staff like we've had throughout this whole process. One of those two games hopefully is when I'll be back in uniform."

Video: BOS@CBJ: Backes snaps one over Bobrovsky's shoulder

After Boston (20-16-4) plays Edmonton the Bruins start a four-game road trip at the Florida Panthers on Saturday.

Backes took part in a full practice, including contact drills. He said he'll wait and see how he feels overnight before deciding whether to play Thursday.

"We're kind of in a take this day-by-day, hour-by-hour type of scenario," Backes said. "I think we were able to take another step forward today being in a full practice. We'll see what tonight brings, [Thursday] brings and hopefully progress to playing in an NHL hockey game in the very near future."

The Bruins are eager to get the 32-year-old back in their lineup.

"It's big for this team, on and off the ice," forward Brad Marchand said. "He's huge in this room, a great leader. He brings so many different elements to the game on the ice and on the bench. If he's in [Thursday] then it'll be a huge lift for our team."

The Bruins have won twice in their past five games (2-2-1). They're also awaiting the return of defenseman John-Michael Liles (concussion) and forward Matt Beleskey (knee). Liles, who was injured Nov. 27, has been skating with the Bruins but isn't medically cleared for game action. Beleskey, who was injured Dec. 3, has started skating, Julien said. He was expected to miss six weeks.

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