David Backes may be one of the most underrated two-way players in the NHL. Fans of the St. Louis Blues know that he frequently is matched up with the opposition’s best lines and is charged with shutting them down, but folks who don’t get to see him play all that often might be surprised by that fact.
The cat might be out of the bag once the 2014 Winter Olympics are over.
The captain of the Blues is known for his massive body checks…
and ability to snipe when the opportunity is there…
Yet the role that Backes will play for the Americans in Sochi is bigger than just hits and points. While he won’t be wearing a letter for the team, he’ll still be a central part of the leadership core and head coach Dan Bylsma (that’s weird to write) will be able to utilize the forward in a number of ways.
Blues coach Ken Hitchcock knows that he can count on the 29-year-old in any and all situations, and Bylsma won’t be unaware of that fact. Don’t be surprised to see Backes taking part in both sides of special teams play while getting a regular shift as a top-six forward.
It only takes one glance at the roster to know that the Americans are looking to crush the opposition with a hasty forecheck and a speedy transition game. One of the funnest parts of the Olympics for Blues fans will be seeing Backes let off the chain a little bit. He’ll still have his two-way responsibilities, but Bylsma could deploy him as a strong-arming, net-driving force on one of the top two lines.
We see that from Backes occasionally, but it hasn’t been the driving force behind his game in St. Louis as he’s evolved over the years. That may change a bit on the larger ice surface in Sochi.
The Minneapolis, Minnesota native will get a chance to avenge 2010’s devastating loss to the Canadians soon enough, and he’ll likely leave a trail of banged up bodies and miserable goaltenders along the way.