Backes (illness) won't be able to play Sunday, but Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy is encouraged by the versatile winger taking contact for the first time Saturday.

Backes, who has missed the past 11 games, remains in recovery mode following a procedure to remove part of his colon. Don't expect the B's to rush him back, but it's worth noting that the team has been thinning out up front with undisclosed ailments to Backes' fellow forwards Anders Bjork and Brad Marchand.

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