Credit Backes for making a big impact in Bruins series vs. Columbus

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COLUMBUS, Ohio – David Backes showed in this second-round series against the Columbus Blue Jackets that he can still be a big factor for the Bruins even at 34 years old. It was Backes who was injected into the lineup in Game 4 with the Bruins down 2-1 in the best-of-seven series to Columbus, and helped push the B’s to three straight wins to close out the Blue Jackets while punching their ticket for the Eastern Conference Final.

That’s the same Backes who scored the third goal in Boston’s 3-0 win over the Blue Jackets to eliminate them in Game 6, and the same Backes who registered points in each of the three games after Bruce Cassidy called his number against Columbus.

That’s the same Backes who didn’t pout or complain when he was a healthy scratch to start things vs. Columbus, and simply waited his turn before becoming a big factor in a series against a big, strong Columbus hockey club. It was almost the perfect matchup for the 6-foot-3 power forward to play to the strengths still left in his game.

“David’s role has changed a little bit in the last couple of years. We know that. Right or wrong, that is the coach’s decision. We’ve discussed it with him and we’ve used other players that have gone in and helped us. [Karson] Kuhlman played in this series and did a good job,” said Bruce Cassidy. “I’m happy for David. It’s an adjustment when you’re used to [playing all the time]. He’s been a captain in the National Hockey League.

“Now he’s turned into a little more of a secondary player and he’s been able to stick with it and keep working hard, and accept his role, whether he likes it or not, and contribute to the success of the team. It’s even better when a guy like him scores the goal that’s the nail in the coffin. I’m happy for him. The guys are very happy for him. Hopefully he continues to deliver. Our question is whether he can give you that same energy and physicality every second night for two months, and that’s been the biggest reason he’s been in and out.”

Interestingly enough, Backes has seemed to click as the second line right wing with David Krejci and Jake DeBrusk after failing to seize that spot many times over the last couple of seasons. Circumstances may change in the next round against a Carolina Hurricanes club that has some youth and speed in spots, but the Bruins might not be readying for a conference final right now if they didn’t still have No. 42 on their roster.

“Establishing my game, but not getting too anxious or excited so you end up in the penalty box [was my focus],” said Backes, who now has a goal and four points in seven playoff games for the Bruins while averaging less than 10 minutes of ice time. “I wanted to be a physical presence that could go to the net and create some space for my linemates, and distract goaltenders and occupy defensemen. If I stick to those principles, then the rest of the game works itself out. I felt like I was able to make an impact in the three games that I played in the series.”

Certainly there is leadership with established, longtime veteran Bruins players like Zdeno Chara and Patrice Bergeron, and there is another tier of younger leaders on the Bruins like Torey Krug as well. But another face of true leadership is Backes saying and doing all the right things when it clearly pained him to not dress for playoff games.

That doesn't even count his vocal leadership style on the bench that demands accountability, and makes things a little less quiet around the team during these high stress games. 

It’s almost as if the hockey gods are now rewarding Backes for being the consummate team guy, and now the 34-year-old gets to show he can still play the game at a high level, and make an impact for the B’s, when it matters most: in the Stanley Cup playoffs. 

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