(Photo: Alan Sullivan)
One of the biggest takeaways from the Boston Bruins final preseason game, as they hosted the Philadelphia Flyers, was that the goalies made some important saves when their teammates had some miscommunications. They did such a good job of it that the game had to go to overtime before a goal was registered. And it was a goal worthy of being an OT winner. David Backes managed to get a second attempt past the Flyer’s d-man who was right on him and onto the stick of Ryan Spooner, who had a solid shot off the post and in.
What may have looked a lot like a mistake free game, because it remained scoreless, was not. The players knew the mistakes and Brad Marchand, who was in his second preseason game after his impressive performance at the World Cup of Hockey, wasn’t shy about stating that.
For Backes, it was his first time before the home crowd, and he had some solid hits, one of which resulted in him having to drop the gloves when Sean Couturier wanted him to pay for the hit.
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Backes and Spooner played on the right and left wings of the David Krejci line. And Spooner made a point of sharing how pleased he was to be playing with Backes.
“He’s been in the league for, I want to say 13 or 14 years now. So, he knows a lot and I like to ask him a lot of questions about where I should go and all that kind of stuff,” Spooner said. “Especially since I’m new to the wing. So, I just try to talk to him and he’s been extremely helpful. It’s been good.”
Spooner was sent down to the Providence Bruins during the 2014-15 season to get some experience on the wing, but last season he played more of a center role. However, it looks like this year he will find himself on the wing. It appears that his communication with Backes has given him a confidence that he previously lacked when in that position.
Backes shared his views on what he needs to do with his new linemates, especially Spooner, and his comments speak to his NHL experience and show what a strong player he will be in the locker room as well as on the ice.
“Yeah, I think we are communicating well and with [Krejci] too, learning a new linemate, learning new teammates and perhaps new positions for us to get use to and all those things kind of roll into an equation where we need to talk more, talk every time we get off the ice and what you’re thinking, where can I go, where can I help you out?” he described. “[Spooner’s] got the asset of speed and some great skills, I can use my size and Krejci’s creativity and great ability to distribute the puck, we just need to all get on the same page and read off each other and when we do that we have certain moments of brilliance where it looks like everything is clicking but then there’s a shift or two where we get bogged down or we all seem to be just looking at each other, trying to figure out who is going where and the more we can win with that and get more of the former than the latter, I think we are going to be better off and contribute to more wins for our team.”
This communication on the bench has been noticed by head coach Claude Julien, and he also pointed out the leadership that Backes brings to the team.
“Well you know we knew what we were getting here. He’s been great on the ice but he’s also been great off the ice,” Julien said. “I hear him on the bench, making sure that even with his linemates that he’s talking to them all the time and letting them know what is expected. [Spooner] is more or less a centerman so he’s been helping him on the wing and trying to get his ear to listen to his questions and trying to get better as a winger.”
The one unacceptable event in the game was the slightly late and slightly high hit by Radko Gudas on Austin Czarnik that resulted in Czarnik heading down the tunnel. At the time of publication no additional information was known as to Czarnik’s condition. Having a young player who has been so strong during camp and in his preseason games to be taken out like that begs the question of if the NHL is going to tighten up on such hits. The NHL has been said to be reviewing the hit.
“Obviously we saw the shoulder to the head and you know [Gudas] just seems to have a knack of getting himself in trouble every game,” Julien said after the game. “I didn’t like the hit personally. I thought it was a little bit late and the shoulder to the head. So it’s disappointing, here’s a player that’s having a good camp, really playing well and then he ends up the last few minutes with a hit like that.”
The Bruins have Sunday off and then will get back to practice on Monday. Their first three games of the regular season are on the road, starting with the Columbus Blue Jackets on Thursday, October 13.
Backes addresses media after the game: