BOSTON (CBS) — You might have heard it once or twice by now in your life: Hockey players are tough.
The latest illustration of that reality came Tuesday night at TD Garden, and it was Bruins forward David Backes who had to serve as the unfortunate model. It came late in the first period against the visiting Coyotes, when Backes offered a little shove to Arizona defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson. He went tumbling to the ice, and on the fall, Ekman-Larsson’s skate came up and caught Backes directly in the face.
Backes promptly made his way to the Bruins bench before quickly jogging down the tunnel to the Bruins’ dressing room to receive attention. He remained there for the final 3:31 of the first period. Considering the potential severity of a skate blade to the face, it wasn’t known if he’d be forced to miss an extended period of time.
Instead, Backes was on the ice for the opening faceoff of the second period.
“Yeah, I didn’t know what happened at first, but the way he came off you figured it was worse than a high stick. Sure enough,” head coach Bruce Cassidy said. “Those are tough, up around your eyes too, but he was able to play through it. I’m sure he’ll be sore tomorrow.”
Backes ended up taking 15:31 of ice time, which was actually higher than his season average of 13:42. Despite a cut under his nose, Backes was clearly not worse for the wear after the incident. That did, however, leave him vulnerable to some verbal jabs from Brad Marchand after the 4-3 victory.
“Yeah, it’s always scary when you see a teammate get a skate in the face or really anywhere, but you know, he looks a little prettier now,” Brad Marchand said. “He came back, he’s fine, and good to see him back out there.”
Marchand also said that Backes has been able to maintain a vocal leadership role during the injury absences of both Patrice Bergeron and Zdeno Chara.
“Backes does a ton of talking. He’s very good with that. He’s very vocal and he loves to hear himself speak, so. But, he’s great at that,” Marchand said. “He’s a great leader. He has been for a long time, so we just try to piggy-back off him.”