David Pastrnak ‘a little nervous’ about return to Bruins’ lineup, playoff preparedness

Matt Kalman
March 18, 2019 - 1:38 pm

Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy got straight to the point when asked after practice Monday about David Pastrnak.

“He’s a good player, we miss him. Practiced today, felt great,” Cassidy said. “So he’s traveling with us, obviously. Could play as early as [Tuesday]. Not saying he will but he’ll make that decision in conjunction with the medical staff. Could be as early as [Tuesday] after morning skate. So I’d assume he’d be a game-time decision tomorrow. I’d suspect if he doesn’t play [Tuesday], Thursday would be a real good day.”

Pastrnak has missed 16 games since taking a fall on a Boston sidewalk and getting surgery to repair a torn thumb tendon. He couldn't handle a stick for a month and has spent the past week or so practicing with a split on his left hand (the right-handed shooter’s top hand) and an adjusted glove.

Obviously Pastrnak wouldn’t tell the public if he wasn’t feeling game-ready. But in his post-practice scrum at Warrior Ice Arena he didn’t go as far as Cassidy and use the word “great” and instead opted for “it feels good.” He noted that shots, including one-timers, haven’t been causing him pain, but stick handling continues to take getting used to.

Pastrnak echoed the sentiment that he’d have a better idea about his readiness to play a game Tuesday. Whether he gets back into the lineup at the New York Islanders, at the New Jersey Devils on Thursday or even at a later date, Pastrnak will be in somewhat uncharted territory. He last missed any games because of injury in December 2016, when he missed two games after elbow surgery. To find his last injury absence as long as the current one you have to go back to when he missed 21 games with a foot injury in November and December of 2015.

So Pastrnak wasn’t making any bold proclamations about being the same player who was averaging 1.18 points per game before the injury during the Bruins’ final 10 regular season games or even into the Stanley Cup playoffs.

“Yeah, I’ve been working really hard to get ready for that. And obviously we’ll see,” he said. “How I said, I haven’t been hurt for a while and I don’t know how I’m going to feel the first game back. A little nervous obviously but just try to stay positive and be ready for anything.”

If the injury had any positive repercussions, there might be two. First, the Bruins have gone 12-3-1 without their leading goal scorer. And second, the downtime gave him a chance to recharge his battery, work out, and get hungrier.

“Yeah, 100 percent. Obviously how I said I tried to take the best advantage, work hard and the guys, our trainers, did a great job,” he said. “I pretty much, that was the only thing I did when the guys took a couple road trips. So feeling good.”

With their depth keeping them ahead of the Toronto Maple Leafs for second place in the Atlantic Division and first-round playoff home-ice advantage, the Bruins would be wise to be careful with Pastrnak’s return. It sounds like the 22-year-old is already being wise about his comeback.

 

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