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Blues expect 'business as usual' against David Backes

Players prepare for tough game when Bruins forward, former St. Louis captain returns to Scottrade Center

by Louie Korac / Correspondent

ST. LOUIS -- Boston Bruins forward David Backes and his former St. Louis Blues teammates have already had their first on-ice encounter, on Nov. 22 at TD Garden.

But that was in Boston. Tuesday, the Bruins visit the Blues at Scottrade Center (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, TVA Sports, SN, NESN), Backes' home away from home for 10 years.

It'll be different for Backes, who spent the past five seasons as Blues captain, but after signing a five-year, $30 million free agent contract on July 1 to leave the organization that selected him in the 2003 NHL Draft (No. 62).

Backes will play in St. Louis for the first time as a visiting player.

"I think it's going to be tougher for him," Blues defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk said of Backes. "When you walk back into the rink that you've been a part of for a long time, walking into the other locker room's a very weird feeling. It'll be tough for him, but as far as we're concerned, we've kind of had that moment where we've played against him already and that's kind of passed. A few of us will see him [Monday night], but obviously tomorrow, it'll be game time."

Backes will get the chance to visit with several former teammates for dinner on Monday. The Bruins, who will play the third of a four-game road trip, arrived in St. Louis after their game on Sunday, a 4-3 overtime loss to the Carolina Hurricanes. Backes' wife, Kelly, and daughter, Stella, have been staying with Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo and his wife Jayne for a couple days and plan to stay for a week.

"For me, he and I talk all the time; we're really good friends obviously," Pietrangelo said. "Kelly and their daughter's been here for a few days already. For me, it's not different. It's on my territory. I think it's a little bit weird for them because they're coming back, seeing all their old friends. Those two developed a lot of relationships in the time they were here. They had a pretty big impact in this community, not only the Blues, but St. Louis in general. There's a lot of people that are trying to reach out to them and rightfully so. They've done a great job when they're here."

Backes had 206 goals and 254 assists in 727 regular season games with the Blues, and 12 goals and 15 assists in 49 Stanley Cup Playoff games. Backes invested much of his hockey life in St. Louis on and off the ice, and the Blues will honor him with a video tribute during the first period.

"I think it's a second go-round for us so it's a little different," Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said. "I'm sure for David it will be unique and once in a lifetime. Both teams are fighting for a playoff spot and fighting for positioning so the focus will be on the game a little more for us. It was emotional for us when we went to Boston for the whole team, but I think the team is more accustomed to it now. It will be emotional for David.

"I'm sure he's going to get a big ovation. He deserves it. He was a good player for a long time here. Some people are good players, and then there's good people. David's good people. He was great in the community, great on the ice, great as a leader, he did a lot of things. He sure made my job a lot easier."

Backes, who has 11 goals and 10 assists in 35 games this season, scored a goal in the Blues' 4-2 victory in Boston, and he'll be ready to play once the puck drops.

"The way he plays, it's going to be business as usual, so if we give him space and respect, he's going to make us pay for it, especially me," Pietrangelo said. "There's obviously going to be a little tribute; I think we all know the situation, but he plays the game hard; it'll be business as usual once that puck drops."

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