Boyes makes statement with game-winner

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Boyes makes statement with game-winner

By DannyPicard
CSNNE.com

BOSTON -- Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli traded Brad Boyes to the St. Louis Blues at the 2007 trade deadline. In return, the B's brought in puck-moving defenseman Dennis Wideman.

At the time, Chiarelli explained his thought process: "I'd like to think that our defense will be a better puck-moving unit now. That's really going to help our chances."

Similar words were spoken at this year's trade deadline, with the acquisition of veteran puck-moving defenseman Tomas Kaberle.

But on Thursday night at the TD Garden, it was Boyes who proved his offensive qualities to be more important -- in this game at least.

Boyes knocked home the game-winning goal with 1:16 left to play in overtime, giving the Sabres a 4-3 win over Boston. It was his sixth game with Buffalo, after being traded from the Blues for a second-round pick at last month's trade deadline.

He made an immediate impact in the division race as he skated hard to the net, and finished a Nathan Gerbe pass from the lower-left circle, after Bruins goaltender Tim Thomas was caught too far out of the net, after taking Gerbe's initial shot off the shoulder.

"I figured I'd follow Gerbe in there and see what he's got," said Boyes. "He made a great play. Most of it was effort. With Timmy Thomas coming out like that, it was an easy tip-in for me."

In essence, Kaberle is this team's new Wideman, proving he can fill the "puck-moving" role on the blue line. And in the moments leading up to Boyes' game-winner, it was Kaberle's defense -- or lack thereof -- that allowed Gerbe to not only get an easy shot off from the high slot, but also allowed him to make Kaberle look like a turn-style, beating him to the loose rebound, and finding a wide-open Boyes at the right post.

It marked Boyes' third goal with his new team. And it was a big one, as it kept the Sabres in the hunt for one of the Eastern Conference's final playoff spots.

It was also fitting that it came against his old team, at the expense of some poor defense from a puck-moving defenseman, which was the type of player Boyes was traded for.

"I've had some great memories here," said Boyes after the game. "I loved playing here. It was a lot of fun. So you want to come back, and you want to do those things. I've been on a few teams, and any time you play an old team, there's that little extra bit, that, you want to make sure that they made a mistake, kind of getting rid of you. Again, that was a while ago. But you still have that extra jump, that sense of excitement."

Boyes played 142 total regular-season games with the Bruins before he was traded more than halfway through his second year in Boston.

He scored 26 goals in 82 games in 2005-06, and had 13 goals in 62 games with the B's prior to the trade to St. Louis.

The following season -- his first full year with the Blues -- Boyes scored a career-high 43 goals. The year after that, he scored 33.

Since then, Boyes' numbers have dropped. Last season, he scored only 14 goals in 82 games, while having only 12 goals in 62 games this season, before being traded to the potentially playoff-bound Sabres.

Thursday night's overtime game-winner marked his 15th goal of the year. While it was special to score against the team that once traded him, Boyes was happier to help the Sabres get two points, putting them in seventh place in the East, with 74 points.

"There is always that extra little bit, but to be honest, it's been a while since I've been back," said Boyes on playing in Boston. "You want to score and go hard against all teams. There are a lot of different faces over there.

"The biggest thing is, you can't stress how important it is to get that extra point. Those other things are great, and I'll take them. But that point is so valuable right now.

"I enjoy it here," said Boyes about his new home in Buffalo. "I think it's been a good move. I'm excited. When I came over here, that was my thought, just being excited, and getting back to what I enjoy doing, scoring goals, winning games, and things like that. That's what I'm trying to do."

Danny Picard is on Twitter at http:twitter.comDannyPicard. You can listen to Danny on hisstreaming radio show I'm Just Sayin' Monday-Friday from9-10 a.m. on CSNNE.com.

Backes: 'Time will be the judge' on his long-term deal with Bruins

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Backes: 'Time will be the judge' on his long-term deal with Bruins

JAMAICA PLAIN – Newest Bruins forward David Backes has heard the trepidation from Bruins fans about the five-year term of his contract, and he’s probably also caught wind of St. Louis Blues GM Doug Armstrong stating publicly that contract length was an area he was uncomfortable getting to on a theoretical extension with his outbound.

The prevailing wisdom is that the decade of rugged, physical play from the 32-year-old in St. Louis will cause him to start slowing down sooner rather than later, and the last couple of seasons won’t be as high quality as the first couple in Boston.

So what does the actual player think about any questions surrounding his five year, $30 million contract?

The 6-foot-3, 221-pound Backes confidently said that concerns about his age, or him slowing down demonstrably in the last few years of his new contract, are “a bunch of malarkey” to borrow a favorite phrase from Vice President Joe Biden.

“I’m 32, not 52. Time will tell, but I feel really good and I take care of my body. I lay it all on the line, but when I’m not at the rink I’m resting and recovering for the next time I have to pour it all into a game,” said Backes, who logged 727 hard-hitting games all with the St. Louis Blues organization over the last 10 seasons. “Time will be the judge, but I feel like [after] five years I’ll even have a couple more [seasons] after that.

“I don’t think this is going to be end. That’s my plan. I’m still going to get better over the next five years, and hopefully have a couple of opportunities to hoist that big trophy I’ve been chasing around for the last 10 years.”

One area of concern from last season: the 21 goals and 45 points in 79 games for the Blues were Backes’ lowest totals over a full season since his first few years in the league. It might be the first signs of decline in a player that’s logged some heavy miles, or it could be a simple down season for a player that’s always focused on setting the physical tone, and defense, just as much as his offensive output at the other end of the ice.

As Backes himself said, “time will be judge” of just how well the five year contract turns out for a natural leader that will undoubtedly give the Bruins a boost as a hard-nosed, top-6 forward as he moves into the Boston phase of his NHL career.

Thursday, July 28: Will the Bruins end up with Jimmy Vesey?

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Thursday, July 28: Will the Bruins end up with Jimmy Vesey?

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading after a pretty amazing, on-point succession of speeches by Joe Biden, Michael Bloomberg and Barack Obama at the Democratic National Convention last night. It was quite a contrast to the absolute circus sideshow that went on in Cleveland last week.

*FOH (Friend of Haggs) Greg Wyshynksi chronicles the Jimmy Vesey Sweepstakes, and the late entry of the Chicago Blackhawks as a suitor. Wysh still feels, as I do, that the Bruins end up getting this talented player at the end of the day.

*The details of the charges levied against Evander Kane paint an ugly picture of a hockey player doing a lot of the wrong things.

*PHT writer Mike Halford says that the Carolina Hurricanes might be ready to snap their playoff drought after extending head coach Bill Peters.

*John Tavares tells the Toronto media not to count on him ever pulling over a Maple Leafs jersey amid post-Stamkos speculation.

*Well, would you look at this? The Nashville Predators are providing salary cap and contract info on their own team website. What a concept!

*The Edmonton Oilers say they will have a new captain in place by opening night, and it will be interesting to see if they go the Connor McDavid route.

*Brian Elliott is thrilled at the opportunity to be “the man” between the pipes for the Calgary Flames this season after splitting time in St. Louis.

*For something completely different: a great feature on Howard Stern, and his transformation from shock jock to master interviewer.

Joe Haggerty can be followed on Twitter: @HacksWithHaggs

Bergeron and Marchand convinced Backes to join Bruins

Bergeron and Marchand convinced Backes to join Bruins

JAMAICA PLAIN -- For those excited about the idea of an intense, hard-hitting David Backes in a Bruins uniform for the next five years, you have Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand to partially thank.

Backes, 32, didn’t know either of them all that well prior to this summer, aside from his experiences on ice against them. But Bergeron and Marchand called Backes multiple times while recruiting him to Boston, and it was a major factor in the former Blues captain signing a five-year, $30 million deal with the B's.

“Being an outsider, we need to have a little bit of confession here that Marchand is the kind of guy that gets under everybody’s skin. I was no different,” said the 6-foot-3, 221-pound Backes, who has 206 goals and 460 points in 727 career NHL games, all with St. Louis. “But then talking to him a little bit in the interview process prior to July 1, I hung up the phone and had to take a deep breath and say to myself, ‘That little disturber, he’s actually a pretty good guy.’ Those guys end up being the best teammates.

“A guy like Bergeron, when you play against him [he's] always in the right spot, and is never making mistakes. Those types of guys, again, are guys you want on your team, and guys you want to go to war with. They’re All-World players, Bergeron is an All-World player. But he’s also a down-to-earth guy that puts his work boots on, takes his lunch pail and plays his butt off. He’s nice to the young kids, and he’s nurturing in helping them come along. I think you’ve seen in the NHL that you need a few guys on entry-level deals, or a few guys to outperform their contracts, in order to have success in the salary-cap era. That nurturing and mentorship can really foster those kinds of performances.”

While Backes went on to mention Zdeno Chara as another highly respected, formidable opponent with whom he’ll now share a dressing room, it was interesting to note that players who currently have letters on their sweaters, like Chara and David Krejci, didn’t play a part in the recruiting process. Instead it was the next captain of the team (Bergeron) and a player (Marchand) currently in the middle of negotiations entering the last year of his contract.

“I talked to both Bergeron and Marchand twice before July 1," said Backes. "Just the way that they spoke about their team mentality, and teaming up together and sharing the load of hard minutes that need to be played, and also sharing the load of the offensive necessities that a team has . . . those things just rang true to my beliefs of a team.

“You’re all equals whether you’re the top-paid guy, or the top-minute guy, or the low-minute guy, or the guy that’s playing every other game because you’re the healthy scratch in the other games.

“We all needed to be treated equal, and do whatever we can to support the next guy. When the next guy has success, we have to be just as happy as if we scored the goal. That’s the type of thing where, when you get that from the full 20 guys on the ice, it’s so tough to be beat. Those are the teams that win championships.”

It will be interesting to see just how much involvement Backes has with the Bergeron and Marchand combination. He could very easily be a right-wing fit with those two dynamic forwards next season, or he could be a third-line center behind Bergeron and Krejci and give the Bruins elite depth down the middle of the ice.

True to his team-oriented nature, Backes said he’ll be happy to play at either position and do whatever Claude Julien feels is best.