Backes set to return for Bruins, while Beleskey is game-time decision

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After a five-game absence due to an elbow injury, David Backes is expected to return to the Boston Bruins lineup on Saturday night when the team hosts the New York Rangers.

Backes participated in the morning skate on Saturday, while coach Claude Julien announced that the veteran forward “should be good” for the game.

He had been sidelined since Oct. 22 following a procedure on his elbow.

The Bruins gave Backes, 32, a massive contract in free agency over the summer when they signed him to a five-year, $30 million contract. Given his age and the fact his production had started to drop a bit in recent years the deal carried quite a bit of long-term risk, but the Bruins clearly loved what he can bring to the roster right now. Before the injury that sidelined him he had already recorded four points (two goals, two assists) in his first five games with the team.

In his absence the Bruins scored only nine goals in five games, but still managed to win three of them thanks in large part to the play of Tuukka Rask in net.

Even with his strong start offensively Backes probably shouldn’t be counted on to be a big-time offensive contributor, but he’s still a strong defensive player that brings a lot of the toughness the Bruins have always wanted up front.

While Backes is set to return to the lineup, Julien was not prepared to announce whether or not Matt Beleskey would return to the lineup after he was a healthy scratch on Thursday. The Bruins’ coach would only say that a decision on Beleskey would be a game-time decision.

Beleskey was Boston’s big ticket free agent signing a year ago after his career year in 2014-15 with the Anaheim Ducks, but has been off to a miserable start this season, failing to record a single point in his first nine games and registering only 12 shots on goal.

After finishing the 2015-16 season as one of the top offensive teams in hockey, scoring has been an issue for almost all of the Bruins so far this season with only 24 goals in their first 10 games.