BOSTON (CBS) — David Pastrnak was a full participant in Tuesday’s practice and may make his return to the Boston Bruins when they start a four-game road trip Tuesday night against the New York Islanders.
Boston’s star winger has been sidelined since early February with a left thumb injury, the result of a tumble the 22-year-old took as he made his way to his ride following a team event. He’s missed 16 games over the last five weeks, and will have to play with a splint on his left thumb for the foreseeable future.
But Pastrnak and the Bruins were encouraged with what they saw on Monday, so the forward will tag along when the B’s start their road trip against the Islanders on Tuesday night. Pastrnak, now pain-free, may even lace them up against the Islanders, according to head coach Bruce Cassidy.
Pastrnak wasn’t as committal on Monday, but sounds like a player ready to return.
“This was my first practice and it felt good today. I’m traveling, so we’ll just take it day by day,” he told reporters at Warrior Ice Arena in Brighton. “It felt good to get shots, one-timers and no pain. I’m happy that I’m moving forward.”
If Pastrnak does return Tuesday, he’ll take his spot alongside Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand on Boston’s top line. He was having a career-year before his February fall, tallying 31 goals and 35 assists over 56 games. His 66 points are still good for third-most on the team, despite the five-week absence.
While there will likely be rust when Pastrnak returns, he isn’t too worried about the splint interfering with his offense.
“There are 1,000 guys playing with a knee brace so you just have to get used to it. But I feel really good now and I’m happy the way it’s moving,” he said, adding that he’s now using a bigger glove.
As for the injury itself, Pastrnak is still disappointed in himself for putting his team in a difficult spot. He explained that he slipped on his way to his car after a team function, and being a lefty, used his left hand to break his fall. Though he knew he landed hard, Pastrnak and the group of teammates he was with at the time didn’t think it would be a major injury.
“I kind of put all the weight on it,” he explained. “Maybe if that happened when I was 18 and 160 pounds it wouldn’t have hurt, but now I weigh 190, so it kind of hurt.”
Kidding aside, Pastrnak still feels like he let his team down with an avoidable injury.
“It’s not an injury that happened on the ice, so I took full responsibility for that,” he said. “That’s what hurt me most. Could I have avoided it? I wish.”
Returning on Tuesday would give Pastrnak 10 games to get back into shape ahead of the playoffs.
“I’ve been working really hard to get ready for that,” he said of the postseason. “I don’t know how I’ll feel the first game back, so I’m a little nervous. But I’m trying to stay positive and be ready for anything.”