I know we throw around the idea a lot that David Backes dislikes Canada after he was a primetime player on the U.S. Olympic hockey team in Vancouver two years ago. And that season it sure seemed like the Minnesota native was on a fighting tour of several players on the Team Canada roster (Jonathan Toews, Rick Nash and Jarome Iginla come to mind). But we kind of left it at that. Now, we've got some ammunition for the border battle.
Over the course of Backes' career, he's played 429 games in the NHL. Of that number, 75 games have been played against teams based in Canada. For these purposes, games against the Atlanta Thrashers do not count while his one game against the Winnipeg Jets does even though they're the same team. We had to draw the line somewhere. That means he's played 17.5 percent of his career games against teams that hear two national anthems before the puck drop. He has 121 career goals. Of that number, 25 have been scored against Canadian-based teams. That's 20.7 percent of his career goals.
A career of more than 400 games is a decent sample size. While the number isn't incredibly far off, it is statistically relevant. But let's look at this season.
Backes has laced up the skates for 65 games this year, 15 times against teams based in Canada. He has 19 goals on the season and seven against Canadian teams. That means he's scored almost 37 percent of his goals this season against teams hailing from the True North which represents 23 percent of the games he's played this season. That's a goal almost every other game against Canadian teams. And sure, only Vancouver has been world beaters this year, but he has one goal against the Canucks this year and seven over his career (tied for most along with seven against Edmonton and Calgary). And sure, just using this season as a barometer is a really small sample size, but it's at least trending the same way the numbers have over his entire career.
The only problem with these numbers is the fact that no Canadian teams are in the division and the realignment plan that would have put Winnipeg in the same grouping got vetoed by the NHLPA.