At some point last season, the space monkeys who hang out on this Web site started comparing St. Louis Blues forward David Backes to THE Chuck Norris. And Chuck Norris was the one who was flattered with the comparison.
The future captain of the Blues made the hockey world stand up and take notice Tuesday afternoon at the Olympics in Vancouver. In the second period of Team USA's opening game against Switzerland, the Stars and Stripes had a 1-0 lead in a tight, physical game. Then that Inglorious Backes decided to take matters into his own hands.
After a save by American goaltender Ryan Miller, the rebound was basically sitting on the ice in front of the crease. Backes gathered the puck and started skating hard down left wing. He made the neutral zone, he made the Swiss blue line and still he carried the puck. At the last second he swept toward the goal, went from the backhand to the forehand and tucked the puck inside the post and past the skate of a sprawling Jonas Hiller for what turned out to be the game-winning goal. And Lady Liberty wept at the beauty of it.
Our friend Greg Wyshynski, aka Puck Daddy, pointed out that Backes has pulled a very similar move on the same ice this season against the Canucks. When I saw the goal, I knew he had done something that looked the same, but had forgotten it was in the same arena. I imagine Roberto Luongo suddenly had shivers going down his spine as he experienced an intense flashback.
Look, we've watched the guy intently since he got his first taste of NHL action when he was called up in December 2006. He scored his first point in his first game in Pittsburgh. We heard the story about him proposing to his girlfriend right before his promotion. We saw him lead the league in hits and then get an offer sheet from the Canucks that St. Louis matched in about 60 minutes. We know about Ryan Kesler giving him crap about his hot wife (more on that later this week). We watch him every night and hope for another four-goal game like he had against Detroit last season. We know. Now everyone does.
What follows is a small sampling of the more than 700 news articles that come back in a Google news search:
But Backes' defining moment Tuesday was far from workmanlike. It had superstar written all over it. -- NHL.com.
Attention NHL.com. You could have just asked us. It wasn't a secret.
Stage fright on the biggest stage in hockey? Not today, anyway. David Backes made Swiss cheese of Montreal Canadiens defenseman Yannick Weber in a beauty end-to-end rush. That was the back-breaker goal. -- ESPN's Winter Olympics blog.
He made Swiss cheese out of the defenseman...who is from SWITZERLAND! What a snappy line that is.
When the U.S. men's hockey team faces Canada Sunday, burly David Backes will be charged with inflicting the pain on his opponents' top snipers. In an opening Olympic warm-up for that game, Mr. Backes got to play at being one himself against Switzerland in a 3-1 U.S. victory Tuesday. -- Wall Street Journal.
We should start using Mr. Backes. It sounds so much more respectful. Even if the writer called him burly.
Backes scored in the second period, also unassisted, on a Bobby Orr-like rink-length dash. -- New York Times.
For a guy to get compared to the greatest offensive defenseman in the history of the game, well it doesn't get much better than that. Sorry, Mr. Chuck Norris.