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David Backes won’t face additional discipline for hit

David Backes (left) has scored 11 goals this season.Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

TAMPA, Fla. — The referees’ whistle didn’t treat David Backes kindly Thursday night, tagging the Boston center with a match penalty in the Bruins’ 3-0 loss to the Panthers, but he skated free Friday from the scrutiny of the NHL’s Department of Player Safety.

The department, mandated to review match penalties for supplemental discipline (i.e suspension), deemed that Backes’s hit at 17:56 of the first period did not target Vincent Trocheck’s head. As viewed through Rule 48.1, any head contact that did occur was unavoidable on an otherwise full-body hit.

None of that gets back the remaining 42:04 Backes was forced to watch from the dressing room in Sunrise, Fla., but it will put the 33-year-old center/wing back in the lineup Saturday night when the Bruins and Lightning clash as the two Eastern Conference powerhouses.


“Let’s play hockey,” a relieved Backes said Friday afternoon following the club’s brief workout at Amalie Arena.

According to Backes, general manager Don Sweeney discussed the hit with league officials earlier Friday.

“The thoughts are that I do everything to minimize any catastrophic injury there,” said Backes. “It’s a play where [Trocheck] is in a vulnerable position but got the puck. So body contact is not something they are trying to take out of the game. They still want physicality in the game, so it’s good news from my front and there is no further action to be taken.”

“I don’t see why there would be [added discipline], to be perfectly honest with you,” said coach Bruce Cassidy. “I usually don’t get into too much of those, but I thought it was a pretty strict call as it is.”

Cassidy was typically restrained and thoughtful when assessing the call.

“I think those are quick calls and the officials on the ice are sometimes in a no-win situation,” he said. “If the guy is hurt, then, ‘Well, you should call a major.’ On the play he got suspended [a hit on Detroit’s Frans Nielsen], he only got a two-minute minor. So last night he gets a major, and [Trocheck] is fine, he’s on the next power play, probably out there for three minutes. And they have to make that decision in a hurry. I don’t think that’s any easy one most nights.”


Backes noted that in the games following his recent suspension, he at times has had to fight the urge to be hesitant about landing hits.

“If you are hesitant, I think you are putting yourself at bigger risk of being in awkward situations where there’s weird contact that looks like you are getting guys in the head,” he said. “So I’ve got to wash that out of my mind.

“As far the standard of what’s going to be [a suspension] and what’s not, I think hitting through guys and being honest, trying to get big chunks of the body, and if guys get hurt, that’s kind of the byproduct of playing hard.”

Tighten it up

With Backes aboard, Cassidy expected to dress the same 12 forwards Saturday who suited up against the Panthers. He added, however, that he might alter the lines, despite watching his charges roll up 73 shot attempts vs. the Panthers.

Shots were aplenty, but finish was scarce. It was only the second time in 69 games this season that the Bruins were shut out.


“We’ll look at that,” said Cassidy, referring to the composition of his four lines. “Some guys played a lot of minutes, but for the most part, there won’t be a ton of change.”

By Cassidy’s count, the Bruins had “more than double” the amount of bona fide scoring chances the Panthers had. Florida landed 28 of its 43 shot attempts.

“We generated enough, and we limited them for the most part,” said Cassidy. “Just the goals we gave up early, there were some rush reads I think we can be better at.”

No surprise then that the workout Friday emphasized defensive play around the net, and overall tightening down the screws — essential when facing the firepower of the Bolts with the likes of Nikita Kucherov (91 points) and Steven Stamkos (82).

“It’s not being more conservative, to be honest, it’s probably a little more aggressive,” said Cassidy. “In a lot of areas, the blue line, end zone closing on guys, just not allowing their skill guys more time and space to play with the puck because that’s when you’re going to get picked apart.

“If you are conservative and sitting back, that’s when they are going to make their plays and score their goals. We’re looking to close gaps early and shut off plays before they happen.

Rask in goal

Tuukka Rask got the start vs. Tampa Bay, looking to increase his personal win streak to six games . . . Anton Khudobin, the loser in Sunrise, now has back-to-back losses for the first time since early December. He had gone 8-2-0 prior to the recent losses to the Blackhawks and Panthers . . . As expected, both captain Zdeno Chara and rookie forward Jake DeBrusk, both of whom were injured in Carolina, were out. Both players, said Cassidy, are feeling better . . . Cassidy emphasized to his cast how alert they’d have to be defensively vs. Stamkos et al. “We’ve got to be on it,” he said. “Because they’ll be coming. And our forwards will have to help out. Make sure we are reloading well.


Kevin Paul Dupont can be reached at kevin.dupont@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @GlobeKPD.