If last Thursday was any indication of what is to come it is two things. Marchand is a beast and Boston struck gold signing David Backes. This is one name Bruins fans will be hearing a lot more often. Before this July most Bruins fans did not know the name David Backes, but by the end of the first month however that is likely to change. Not because it is the biggest free agent signing since Zdeno Chara, (when he signed with the Bruins in 2006 for five years, $37.5 million) but because he is a serious problem solver that the Bruins have been looking for the past two years in many of aspects that have been lacking in the group dynamic.
To go over the numbers that has brought David to this point might help bring an understanding to fans of why signing the now 32 year old to a 5 year $30 Million deal was the best thing that could happen to this team. David Backes was drafted by the St. Louis Blues in 2003 and played the last 10 years with the club, the last 5 years as its captain. In that time he racked up over 450 points. In his last year he played a total of 79 games, scoring 21 goals (3 of which were game winners), 24 assists, held +/- of +4 throughout the year and a +19 minute average of active ice time per game. That however, does not tell the whole story, while maintaining this is impressive; The Bruins have struggled for key play in the postseason as well as closing out the regular season of recent. Backes may make the difference here as well; just this past year in 14 games of playoff hockey he tallied 7 goals and 7 assists, marking at least a point in almost every game.
If this has not convinced you then let us break down Thursday’s action a bit. Sharing the line with Marchand and Pastrnak, Backes was able to deliver key break-aways when it was most needed. He combined with the other Bruins talent for 12 points & all 6 goals in just that one game, after being behind in the same game by 2, more than once. To bring a team to rally, a likes we have not seen the Bruins do since Shawn Thornton was in town has to give us hope moving forward. Keep in mind this was also done without McQuaid or Bergeron. Another fun fact in the trust this team has for him, behind what we see as fans, is David also was elected to be given the “A” until Bergeron returns. The trust this team and his coaches have in him is astronomical.
One last thing to consider on why Backes is something everyone should pay attention to, has actually nothing to do with what the Bruins did in the offseason, but what the arch rival Habs did. Andrew Shaw, formally of the Chicago Blackhawks, the main rival for the former Blues captain, was signed as a free agent by Montréal in the end of June. This is someone who Backes encountered on a regular basis and has a solid background understanding of playstyle against. However this wasn’t the only player Montréal acquired in that month that Backes knows well. Also from his former division, Shea Webber former Captain Defenseman of the Nashville Predators was traded for PK. Subban. This trade, welcomed by most Boston Bruins fans as pulling a thorn out of our side, also brought another powerful player of which the team was unfamiliar with (with maybe the exception of his slap shot contests once a year with Zedeno Chara).
Backes’s numbers are great, but it is his knowledge and experience as a leader that will be key in working against and keeping up with the Habs advancements and moves. Boston still has a hill to climb, but it is looking a lot less steep then in previous years.