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If the Bruins are going to play David Backes, they should play David Backes

What a weird headline. Someone fire the editor.

Boston Bruins v Toronto Maple Leafs - Game Three Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images

As the week turns from Wednesday to Thursday, all signs point to David Backes drawing back into the Bruins’ lineup in Game 4. Nothing is set in stone, of course, but generally, you don’t practice a guy on the second line if you’re not going to play him.

Backes remains divisive: some fans like his veteran savvy and ability to play a heavy game, while others fear he’s slow, washed up, and no better than the Bruins’ other options.

The truth, of course, is somewhere in between. Backes was pretty effective in Game 2 against Toronto, particularly in the first period. He was borderline invisible in Game 5 of that series, the last time he saw game action.

The type of Backes we see tonight could play a pretty big role in determining who wins this game and this series, but one thing is for certain: if Bruce Cassidy is going to play David Backes, then he should play David Backes.

Confused? I had to put something weird in the title to get you to read this, right?

I’m actually on board with putting Backes back in the lineup. I know his legs aren’t what they used to be, but Columbus isn’t exactly a team filled with speedsters. Backes can handle himself physically, and could get some of the Columbus to hear footsteps on the forecheck. Finally, Backes can be a net-front, crease-crashing presence that might be enough to throw a bit of a wobble in Sergei Bobrovsky’s game.

Or it could be a disaster. Aren’t sports great?!

The main point, however, is that the Bruins might as well actually use Backes if they’re going to play him. If they’re going to use him sparingly, they’re basically just shortchanging themselves a forward.

In Game 5 against Toronto, Backes skated 4:36. Total. Over the course of the entire game. 4:36. 4:36!!!!!

In Game 3, he skated just 9:09. In Games 2 and 4, he skated more than 12 minutes, and the Bruins won both games. CLEARLY THOSE THINGS ARE RELATED.

Kidding aside, the Bruins gain nothing by playing Backes 4 minutes a night. It becomes a waste of a roster spot, not something you really want to do in the middle of a playoff series.

The larger point is that if Cassidy has determined that Backes is going to be able to help the team, then he should play him like a regular forward. Don’t give him extra minutes just to be a nice guy, but don’t staple him to the bench for 56 minutes either.

In the Toronto series, I don’t remember anything egregiously bad by Backes. The guess here is that Cassidy simply decided Backes couldn’t hang with the speedy Leafs.

He has obviously taken a different view of this series. By placing Backes on the second line, he’s virtually guaranteeing that he’ll play triple that 4:36 from Game 5. It’s the right decision: if the Bruins are going to use that roster spot for 4 minutes, they could put you or I in there and we’d probably have the same impact as Backes. Not much happens in 4:36.

Instead, it appears that Cassidy has decided he’s going to give Backes a chance to make an impact.

Here’s to hoping that he’s up to the task.