Bruins excited to have David Backes in lineup for Game 2 against Leafs

Matt Kalman
April 13, 2019 - 12:08 pm

Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy didn’t want to reveal who will sit out Game 2 of the Eastern Conference first round against Toronto at TD Garden on Saturday, but he announced who would be in the lineup after missing Game 1.

David Backes, a healthy scratch for the Bruins’ 4-1 series-opening loss, will play.

“David’s just a change of personnel, I guess, whatever word you want to use,” Cassidy said after the Bruins held a morning skate. “He’s been a good player for us. We needed maybe a little more leadership, a little more intensity in our lineup. So obviously he brings that, we’ll see where it goes.”

Backes had just 20 points (seven goals, 13 assist) in 70 games this season. But the Bruins aren’t expecting him to produce, that’s what they have their top nine forwards around to do. Backes just has to exact some punishment on the Maple Leafs during his scant minutes, and also liven up the dressing room and bench.

One player that hardly needs help getting amped up is Brad Marchand, but even he admitted the Bruins could use a jolt of Backes to make sure the effort in Game 2 in better than what came out for Game 1.

“It helps in a lot of areas,” Marchand said. “Such a good leader in the room, on the bench. He really controls it and he’s such a positive influence for the group, and then the way he carries himself on the ice and how hard he plays and he leans on guys. His ability out there, the way he can control pucks down there and hold onto them, create good forechecks, he’s a great player for our team and a huge leader.

“So we definitely missed that in Game 1, you know, in situations where he’d speak up and take control we could’ve used him. So excited to have him back in tonight.”

It might seem contradictory to say the Bruins need to match Toronto’s speed and that the 34-year-old Backes is the answer. But, as he explained Friday, there are ways for him and his linemates to play faster even if they don’t have natural footspeed to put the Maple Leafs on their heels.

"If it were just timing guys on races between the blue lines, maybe I'm not in the top half of the guys that are in this series," he said. "But predictability makes guys look fast, and if you're on the same page and you're playing the same game and you're talking and you're communicating, you don't have to wait and read and react, you're already anticipating, you know what your linemate's going to do and you can be there already or on your way. Now all of a sudden slow guys look fast."

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