BRIGHTON, Mass – The Boston Bruins return for leading game-breaker David Pastrnak has become imminent as he practiced with the group for the first time without a no-contact sweater on Monday morning.
David Pastrnak out of the no-contact practice jersey this morning. One step closer to a return to game action 🍝🚨 pic.twitter.com/PHPwv4cDdl
— BOSHockeyNow (@BOSHockeyNow) January 25, 2021
The 23-year-old right wing has been ruled out from playing in either of this week’s home games against the Pittsburgh Penguins, but Pastrnak hasn’t been ruled out from potentially playing this weekend against Zdeno Chara and the Washington Capitals.
“He skated in a normal jersey today, so he took contact. It’s the next step in his progression. We’ll see how he handles that,” said Cassidy, who has had Pastrnak skating in a no-contact jersey for the last couple of weeks. “I don’t suspect he’ll play in any of these home games, but he’ll probably travel with us and we’ll see from there. It’s good news on him, but we’ll see how he’s doing [on Tuesday].”
Pastrnak skated without any restrictions on Monday morning at Warrior Ice Arena while going through line rushes with Brad Marchand and Par Lindholm (Patrice Bergeron took a maintenance day) and is expected to reclaim his rightful spot on the Perfection Line when he does return to game action. Needless to say, the NHL’s leading scorer is excited to be healthy and poised for a return to the lineup after a lengthy five-month rehab, and the league is a much more exciting place with him.
“A lot of excitement. It’s been a long road. I’m obviously itching to get out there,” said Pastrnak, who had an NHL-leading 48 goals and 95 points in 70 games for the Bruins last season. “Hopefully I get some more good days like this upcoming. I hadn’t been through anything like this in my career before, so it was something new. But I did learn a lot about my body. It’s the worst part for a professional athlete is obviously the injuries.
“It was really exciting to be out there practicing with the guys. I’m feeling great on the ice and I really, really can’t wait to get back out there. It’s wonderful skating on the ice pain-free, so I’m excited to be back. I’m really, really happy that I [had the surgery].”
The Boston Bruins have done a solid job without him and actually enjoyed their best offensive output over the weekend when they posted six goals against the Philadelphia Flyers, and 10 goals over the last four periods of hockey against Philly.
Otherwise, both Bergeron (slammed into the post last weekend) and Matt Grzelcyk (lower body) were missing from Monday’s practice (along with Ondrej Kase, who is out with a concussion) with the Bruins defensemen’s lower body injury “feeling better” while shooting for a return vs. the Penguins this week.
Here are the line combos and D-pairings from Bruins practice on Monday with Bergeron and Grzelcyk both missing: