David Backes Requires Surgery, Out 8 Weeks

It’s been a rough start to the 2017-18 season for the Boston Bruins. In a season that’s already seen the team riddled with injuries, the team announced that David Backes would undergo surgery Thursday to remove a portion of his colon due to the diverticulitis he has been dealing with this season. Backes only made his debut on Oct. 19 and less than two weeks later is now expected to miss the next eight weeks while recovering from surgery.

Details on Backes’ Surgery

Official release from the Bruins website:

David Backes will undergo surgery on Thursday, November 2 to remove a portion of his colon. The expected recovery time is approximately 8 weeks. The decision to have surgery was made in consultation with team physicians as well as outside specialists in the management of diverticulitis. David’s episode of diverticulitis at the beginning of the season was his second episode in two months and was complicated with an abscess (collection of infection adjacent to the colon) that required drainage. Repeated episodes, like what David experienced, have a very high likelihood of recurrence in the near term, which is why he was advised to have surgery to remove the area of colon causing the problem. It was determined that attempting to delay the surgery until after the season was an unacceptable risk to his health.

David was cleared to play in the team’s games on October 19 while waiting for his colon to properly heal from the most recent episode of diverticulitis which sidelined him for the first five games of the 2017-18 season. David was at no additional risk while playing during this period, and he is having the surgery as soon as the medical team felt comfortable moving forward with the operation.

Bruins’ Injuries Adding Up

With Backes now expected to miss two months of the season, the Bruins are left with a major problem. With the injury to David Krejci leaving him with a week-to-week designation, the Bruins were already hurting for playmaking top-six centers outside of Patrice Bergeron who could make an impact. Backes was tasked with filling in for Krejci prior to this decision to undergo surgery, and the Bruins are now limited at center – the position they undoubtedly have the most depth in.

(Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports)

While Bergeron is back in the lineup after missing the Bruins’ first five games of the season, the number of centers dealing with injuries on the Bruins’ roster is staggering. Krejci, Backes, Ryan Spooner and Noel Acciari are all currently dealing with injuries to various degrees. Outside of the center position, goaltender Tuukka Rask and defenders Torey Krug, Adam McQuaid and Kevan Miller have all missed time with injuries already this season.

Slow Start for Backes and Consistency Struggles for the Bruins

Through five games, Backes failed to find the back of the net and recorded only one assist. A slow start isn’t that surprising, especially given how the Bruins have struggled with consistency to this point in the 2017-18 season. With a 4-3-3 record in their first 10 games, the Bruins have yet to string together a single winning streak this season. Some tough losses have highlighted the early goings of the season, but slow starts and inability to finish have been the story of the year aside from injuries in Boston.

(Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports)

While injuries piling up and a weird schedule can obviously play a major role on how the Bruins are playing, there’s no excuse for some of the lackadaisical play that has plagued the team at times already this year. When the team is eventually healthy, consistency should be easier to come by. In the meantime, however, the Bruins will have to work at manufacturing consistency despite these obstacles – injuries are part of the game and adjustments will have to be made.

Bruins Recall Jordan Szwarz and Zane McIntyre on Emergency Basis

In the aftermath of the Backes announcement, the Bruins also announced Wednesday that they would be recalling forward Jordan Szwarz and goaltender Zane McIntyre on an emergency basis. Szwarz has yet to play in a game with the Boston Bruins after playing in 65 games with the Providence Bruins in 2016-17 and six games in 2017-18. He does have NHL experience, however, scoring three goals in 26 games in 2013-14 and one goal in nine games in 2014-15 with the Arizona Coyotes.

Zane McIntyre
(Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports)

At the Bruins’ practice session Wednesday, a new-look lineup was apparent. David Pastrnak was reunited with Brad Marchand and Bergeron on the team’s top line and the remaining three lines received a major facelift. Jake DeBrusk remained on the Bruins’ second line with Riley Nash and Tim Schaller rounding out the other two-thirds of that line. Danton Heinen, Szwarz and Anders Bjork formed the team’s third line and Matt Beleskey, Sean Kuraly and Frank Vatrano skated on the team’s fourth line.

McIntyre’s call-up coincided with goaltender Anton Khudobin also missing from practice – this is McIntyre’s second emergency call-up in the last few days.