COLUMBUS -- David Backes could return to the Boston Bruins' lineup in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Second Round against the Columbus Blue Jackets at Nationwide Arena on Thursday (7:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, SN, CBC, TVAS).
Backes, who celebrated his 35th birthday Wednesday, has been a healthy scratch for five straight games after playing a season-low 4:36 in Game 5 of the first round against the Toronto Maple Leafs.
At practice Wednesday, Backes skated on Boston's second line with David Krejci and Jake DeBrusk, replacing Karson Kuhlman, who was in that spot in Game 3, a 2-1 Blue Jackets' win that gave Columbus a 2-1 lead in the best-of-7 series.
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Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy said he'd announce if Backes is playing Thursday morning. He said he's weighing which type of player he wants to go with, the heavier Backes, who would be a net-front presence looking to disrupt Columbus goalie Sergei Bobrovsky, or the quicker Kuhlman.
"It's just two different animals," Cassidy said.
Backes sounded as if he was expecting to play in Game 4 and said his hope would be to stand in front of the net as often as he can to get in Bobrovsky's way. Bobrovsky has made 99 saves on 105 shots for a .943 save percentage in three games against Boston.
"From my point of view, if he's seeing it he's stopping it," Backes said of Bobrovsky. "He's over quick on lateral plays. He's doing a heck of a job to keep them in games and give them a chance to win. It's been three one-goal games, so the margins are very small, but if we can take his eyes away, find a couple loose pucks in front of the net, that's kind of what I've done my whole career. That'd be great, and it would give us a better chance to win.
"So, hopefully I find myself on top of that [blue] paint for extended periods of times with little black pucks flying by me, try to get tips and rebounds and screens. It's no secret how you score this time of year and I want to be part of that."
The Bruins also inserted Backes for Game 2 against Toronto after scratching him in Game 1, a 4-1 loss. They got instant positive results with Backes getting an assist on Charlie Coyle's goal 4:44 into the first period. Boston won 4-1.
Backes' impact eventually faded and by Game 6 he was out of the lineup again, but the Bruins could be seeking a similar jolt from their veteran forward in this series after losing back-to-back games following a 3-2 overtime win in Game 1.
"You long to be out there," Backes said. "And down 2-1 in a series, to have that opportunity, I'm going to relish it and do whatever the heck I can to give us an advantage or a little bit of an edge to try to get this thing back even and go home for a Game 5."