Where: Scottrade Center, St. Louis
ST. LOUIS – (Special preview for Digital Sports Desk by The Sports Xchange) – David Backes returns to the city where he spent the first 10 seasons of his career when the Boston Bruins continue their four-game road trip with a visit to the St. Louis Blues on Tuesday night. Although Backes already faced his former teammates in Boston in November, it will be first time playing at Scottrade Center since leaving as a free agent after last season.
Backes captained the Blues for his final five seasons before inking a five-year, $30 year million contract with the Bruins, but St. Louis coach Ken Hitchcock expects a warm welcome from the fans. “I’m sure he’s going to get a big ovation. He deserves it,” Hitchcock said. “He was a good player for a long time here. Some people are good players, and then there’s good people. David’s good people.” Backes scored in the first meeting between the teams, but the Blues rallied for the final three goals in a 4-2 victory. St. Louis is among the league’s best home teams, but is seeking back-to-back wins for the first time since Nov. 28-Dec. 1.
TV: 8 p.m. ET, NBCSN, TVAS, Sportsnet, NESN (Boston)
ABOUT THE BRUINS (21-17-5): After missing three games with a concussion, Backes returned to the lineup and scored in each of the last two contests as he braces for what promises to be an emotional reunion. “Just driving around town, it’s nostalgic being back here, seeing lot of familiar sights, reconnecting with a lot of friendly faces, guys saying hi,” Backes told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “I’m back in familiar territory.” Backes has 10 goals for Boston after notching 206 in 10 seasons with St. Louis.
ABOUT THE BLUES (21-14-5): St. Louis has surrendered at least four goals in five of its last 11 games but could solidify its blue line with defensemen Robert Bortuzzo and Carl Gunnarsson close to returning. Bortuzzo (lower body), out since Dec. 3, practiced fully on Monday while Gunnarsson (lower body) will skate Tuesday morning, with the hope that both players will join the team on the three-game California road trip. Jori Lehtera is mired in a nine-game goal drought but scored twice at Boston on Nov. 22.
1. Blues F Vladimir Tarasenko has scored four times in the last three games to reach 20 for the fourth straight season.
2. Bruins G Tuukka Rask is 3-2-3 with a 2.32 goals-against average versus St. Louis.
3. St. Louis is 5-for-20 on the power play in the past five games while the Bruins have killed off all 15 penalties in the same span.