David Backes’ absence from the Boston lineup Tuesday night came as a surprise, and the Bruins announced Wednesday that they’re not expecting the rugged winger to make his return before the end of the weekend.
Though there had been no signs that Backes, 32, was dealing with any sort of injury, he was unexpectedly listed as day-to-day ahead of Tuesday’s meeting with the Minnesota Wild. And Wednesday morning, Bruins GM Don Sweeney announced that the veteran will be out for at least the next two games — in New York against the Rangers and in Detroit against the Red Wings — after he “underwent the removal of the olecranon bursa from his elbow on Monday.” Sweeney said that an update will be available on Backes following the weekend, at which point a clearer timeline for his return should be available.
According to the Mayo Clinic, the olecranon bursa, or elbow bursa, is the fluid-filled sac that reduces friction between the bone and the skin near the point of the elbow. Backes was likely dealing with bursitis, which is the inflammation of the bursa, which can create a large, painful, swollen ball on the elbow. That would no doubt make it hard to play for Backes.
There’s no telling how long Backes could be sidelined with the ailment, but a spate of injuries has the Bruins no doubt hoping his return will be prompt. Already, Boston is without goaltenders Tuukka Rask and Anton Khudobin, and defenseman Kevan Miller is expected to be on the shelf for several weeks.
Missing Backes from the lineup means Boston has to shake up their offense, and on a team that doesn’t have a wealth of solid depth forwards, that can be troublesome. The Bruins have only had three goals come from players outside of their top-six, and two of those have been from off-season acquisition Dominic Moore.
The hope will have to be that whoever moves up to a bigger role can contribute over the next pair of games, and then continue to do so if Backes finds himself shelved for longer. In Backes’ absence on Tuesday, rookie Danton Heinen drew into the top-six against the Wild, skating nearly 17 minutes one outing after he was a healthy scratch against the Montreal Canadiens.
Boston has also reached down into the AHL for some help with Backes out through the weekend, bringing Austin Czarnik up to the big club. Czarnik, 23, has played two games for the Bruins this season, but only has a single shot on goal to his name. In 68 games with Providence in 2015-16, Czarnik netted 20 goals and 61 points, and he’s managed one goal and three points in two games with the AHL Bruins in 2016-17.
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