The St. Louis Blues are the only team David Backes has ever known.
And now, in what could be his final season with the club, he’s marking arguably the biggest impact of his career.
Backes, who has spent all 10 of his NHL seasons with the Blues — and the last five as team captain — is enjoying a terrific postseason and scoring at an unprecedented clip. The 32-year-old leads St. Louis with 13 points through 16 games and has three game-winning goals, putting him on par with Joe Pavelski for the playoff lead.
The way Backes has scored his goals has become a story.
At 6-foot-3 and 221 pounds, he has the ideal frame to be an effective net-front presence… which is exactly what he’s done. Backes has done most of his damage atop the blue paint, tipping point shots and banging in rebounds.
It’s something his head coach, Ken Hitchcock, has come to admire.
“First of all, he’s a baseball player, [so his] hand-eye coordination is a little bit different than other people,” Hitchcock told Sports Illustrated. “He’’s good at it. As he said to us, it’s like taking batting practice. That’s what he did as a kid. He was obviously a good ballplayer. He feels that the more he does that, the more confident he is.
“I think the other thing [is]…I haven’t coached many players that hang in there on the shot. Most of them jump out of the way.”
The Blues could certainly use some of Backes’ goalscoring at the moment. They’ve been shut out in consecutive games by the Sharks, and now trail the two games to one in the Western Conference Final.
If this is Backes’ last season in St. Louis, he’ll want a better ending than this.
Which means he might need to rediscover those baseball skills once again.