David Pastrnak is inching closer toward his 2020-21 NHL debut.
The Boston Bruins forward has missed the first five games after undergoing hip surgery in the offseason. Pastrnak’s timeline put him returning near the beginning of February, and it appears he may be just ahead of that.
Pastrnak skated Monday at Warrior Ice arena in a white jersey, shedding the red non-contact one he had been wearing.
Head coach Bruce Cassidy confirmed the forward will not play in Boston’s upcoming two home games against the Pittsburgh Penguins, but could return this weekend.
“Took contact, which was the next step in his progression,” Cassidy told reporters Monday. “This week we’ll see how he handles that. Then, if it goes well and he wakes up (on Tuesday) and the next day, depending on how much contact he needs, and doesn’t feel any after-effects then we’ll consider putting him in the lineup.
“I don’t suspect he’ll play any of these home games, but he’ll probably travel with us and go from there. Good news on him, but let’s see how he does.”
As for Pastrnak, he’s just itching to get back to game action.
“The closer it gets, the harder it gets,” Pastrnak said. ” … A lot of excitement. It’s been a long road. I’m itching to get out there. It’s been a good day today. Full practice with the boys and practice with some bodies besides myself … Hopefully I get more good days like today.”
“We’ll see how he is in the morning skate,” Cassidy said.
Patrice Bergeron was given a maintenance day, but Cassidy expects the top-line center to play Tuesday. Ondrej Kase, meanwhile, remains out with an upper-body injury.
Puck drop from TD Garden for Bruins-Penguins is set for 7 p.m. ET on Tuesday.