By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — Riley Nash hasn’t played for the Bruins since the final day of March, an afternoon when he was hit in the ear by a Torey Krug shot in a game against the Florida Panthers. On Friday, in between Games 1 and 2 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals against the Maple Leafs, Nash took a step toward returning by hitting the ice for practice at the Bruins’ facility.
“I feel good,” Nash said after the skate. “It’s nice to get back out there with the guys and feel like you’re actually part of the team again. So today was a good day.”
Even by the standard of hockey injuries, Nash’s was a rough one. He stood in the faceoff circle, battling for space with Keith Yandle, when Krug’s point shot sailed high and hit Nash directly in the ear. He went down immediately, bleeding from his head, before being helped off the ice.
Nash said Friday that he dealt with some concussion-like symptoms in the days that followed.
“I had some symptoms, I don’t know if it was a concussion or it wasn’t,” Nash said. “Obviously taking a puck to the skull like that isn’t going to feel great. I don’t know if it was just a little bit of swelling that was causing those symptoms or whatnot.”
A veteran of more than 400 NHL games, Nash admitted that the experience put a bit of a scare into him, as he came close to losing his ear.
“It was pretty scary, I mean, any time you have your head shaken up like that,” he said. “It’s probably a good thing that it went numb right away, that I didn’t really feel a whole lot after that. I know my ear was kind of hanging on for dear life. I’m just happy to have it.”
He needed more than 40 stitches, but he’s happy to have his ear, especially considering his hearing remains unaffected … for the most part.
“Sometimes when my girlfriend yells at me, I say I don’t hear it,” he joked. “That’s about it. And my mom.”
Even though it was a bit of a harrowing experience, Nash said it’s part of the job.
“It���s a little bit scary but we play this game, we love this game, and you sign up for it, you take the risk,” Nash said “It’s obviously like a freak accident to get in that little ear hole. Stuff happens, and you just kind of move on and put it in the past and move on from it.”
As for moving on, Nash may still have a few more hurdles to clear before returning to game action, as Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy said that despite progress being made, Nash is doubtful to play in Game 2. But Nash will get his chance to return to the lineup sooner than later, and more importantly, he’s still in one piece.