David Backes

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NHL on NBCSN: Bruins continue push for playoff spot against Stars

NBCSN will continue its coverage of the 2016-17 campaign tonight when the Boston Bruins host the Dallas Stars at 7:30 p.m. ET. If you want to watch the game online, you can do so here.

With six games to go, the Bruins are in a decent spot when it comes to making the playoffs, but they’re far from a lock.

They currently sit three points ahead of Tampa Bay in the chase for the final Wild Card spot in the Eastern Conference, but the Bolts have a game in hand.

Boston got off to a great start when they named Bruce Cassidy as Claude Julien’s replacement. They cooled off considerably (they lost four in a row) in the last couple of weeks. Now, they head into tonight’s action having won each of their last two games.

“I don’t have the reason why it wasn’t there for maybe a three-game stretch there,” said David Backes, per the Boston Globe. “But the fact that it’s back, and we’ve got our legs under us and we found that winning way again . . . hopefully, lesson learned.”

The good news for them, is that they can still move up the standings too. The Bruins are one point behind the Toronto Maple Leafs, who are third in the Atlantic Division. Finishing in the second Wild Card spot means likely playing Washington in the first round, while finishing third in the Atlantic would mean possibly playing Ottawa.

After tonight’s game against the Stars, the Bruins will play four of their last five games (Florida, Tampa, Ottawa, Washington) at the TD Garden. Their only road game will be in Chicago. So they’ll face some pretty good teams, but at least they’ll do so on home ice.

Last week, the Stars were officially eliminated from the playoff picture, which wasn’t exactly surprising.

Dallas was hit hard by the injury bug, as they lost Mattias Janmark, Ales Hemsky early on, while Valeri Nichushkin bolted for the KHL.

So with the playoffs out of sight and out of mind, the Stars can focus on getting their young players some more ice time over the last two weeks of the regular season.

Players like Julius Honka, Curtis McKenzie, Remi Elie and Jason Dickinson should all get an extended look.

“We’re in a place where we need them to play important roles,” coach Lindy Ruff said of his young players, per the Dallas Morning News. “and we need them to play well.

“We need to finish hard and play hard. I think we’re all focused on being professional and giving our best effort.”

 We’ll find out if they can play spoiler in Boston tonight.

Logan Couture can at least speak and eat following horrifying mouth injury

As much as many of us suffer during a trip to the dentist, few can fathom the horrors hockey players often go through when a puck, stick or fist finds their teeth/mouths. Consult this vintage PHT post from 2010 if you want to cringe, a lot.

Much like Eddie Lack “only” dealing with a neck sprain, it’s strange to be heartened to hear that Logan Couture can speak and eat after his own painful ordeal, but that’s the positive update from the Mercury News on Tuesday.

Couture, Wilson said, did not need to have his jaw wired shut after a deflected puck caught him in the mouth on Saturday when the Sharks played the Nashville Predators.

“Hey, he can speak and eat … and his jaw isn’t wired shut!” Yeesh.

To little surprise, Couture isn’t playing on Tuesday. As far as the Sharks next three games (Thursday, Friday and Sunday), that remains to be seen.

As an aside, consider this: on the same day Jonathan Drouin‘s celebrating his birthday after helping the Lightning win, Couture is lucky if he can force down some birthday cake. Life: it isn’t always fair.

PHT discussed his trip to the dentist on Monday.

More mouth pain: When David Backes felt like his face was falling off.

Marchand looks like he’s in a video game setting up Backes goal

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It’s tempting to focus on Brad Marchand‘s goal-scoring ability, but he’s in the running for the Art Ross Trophy because of some great playmaking skills, too.

He made that point with a pretty astounding assist on Monday, looking as if he was some sort of unrealistically over-powered video game player in setting up David Backes‘ 1-0 tally during tonight’s big game against the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Watch Marchand’s 43rd assist and 80th point of 2016-17:

The NHL’s first star of the week doesn’t seem to be slowing down.

Here’s the helper in GIF form, if that’s your preference.

Bruins end Flames’ run at 10; Marchand is now your goals leader

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Hot take: the Boston Bruins will be able to handle Dougie Hamilton‘s center-ice goal (though Anton Khudobin likely will remain grumbling).

The Bruins rendered that gaffe fairly irrelevant on Wednesday as their big guns doused the Calgary Flames’ winning streak at 10 games by a decisive score of 5-2.

Brad Marchand also passed Sidney Crosby and the rest of the field in the Maurice Richard Trophy race, scoring his 36th goal of 2016-17:

Marchand added an assist as big names such as David Pastrnak (two goals) and David Backes (one goal) enjoyed strong nights in their own right. Backes’ goal was an especially promising sign, as he recovered from this injury scare:

Wednesday’s two points ties Marchand for the Art Ross lead at 76 points … it’s all very impressive stuff for a guy who’s clearly surpassed his “pest” label. (Not to say that he can’t still get under opponents’ skin, mind you.)

Wins like these remind us that the Bruins have been almost as hot as the Flames. Maybe most importantly, Boston seems increasingly above the wild card fray out East.

So, yeah, that Hamilton goal probably doesn’t mean much more than a blooper reel appearance and made some gentle film-room ribbing for Khudobin.

Bruins’ McQuaid needed 25 stitches after taking skate to the neck

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Scary moment in Saturday’s Boston-New Jersey game when Bruins defenseman Adam McQuaid was hit in the neck by the skate of teammate David Backes late in the third period.

On Sunday, the Bruins revealed that McQuaid needed 25 stitches as a result of the incident. As bad and as scary as that is, that could have easily been a lot worse, all things considered.  The Bruins expect McQuaid to be able to play on Monday against the Ottawa Senators in what is going to be a massive game in the Eastern Conference playoff race.

Said Cassidy on McQuaid being able to play, “he’s a tough customer.”

This is a look at the play that injured McQuaid.

In 60 games this season McQuaid has scored two goals and added six assists for the Bruins while logging more than 17 minutes of ice time per game.