Brad Marchand won’t be surprised if David Pastrnak returns to the Boston Bruins with a bang.
The veteran left wing explained to reporters Thursday why he believes his star teammate won’t struggle to cope with the demands of end-of-season hockey when he returns from injury. Pastrnak has been out since April 4 due to a recurrence of the upper-body injury he suffered March 18. The Bruins expect Pastrnak to return either Sunday in Boston’s matchup against the Montreal Canadiens or Tuesday when the Bruins face off against the Florida Panthers.
A three-week layoff prior to the Stanley Cup Playoffs would sap most players’ rhythm and timing, causing their performances to dip when their team most needs them to shine, but Marchand doesn’t fear Pastrnak will need much time to recover his form. After all, Pastrnak, Boston’s leading goal scorer, is no ordinary player.
“It’s gonna be a sprint for him to feel it before playoff time, but he’s one of those players that’s so naturally gifted I think it comes easier to him than most of those guys,” Marchand said Thursday, as seen in video the Bruins provided. “He just relies on his abilities. He’ll be fine.”
Pastrnak likely will play three or four games next week, as the regular season winds down. The Stanley Cup Playoffs are scheduled to begin May 2, meaning the 25-year-old hotshot will have to return to peak fitness amid the heat of battle.
It’s a tall order, but that Marchand reckons Pastrnak can pull it off.
“The hardest thing is your conditioning when you’re out for a while. The game is so fast nowadays your timing and your conditioning — a guy like Pasta where he’s so skilled, I don’t think you have to worry about his puck play. It’s more he plays 20 minutes a night, his conditioning level needs to be really high. You don’t realize how far behind you get when you’re out for even a week. A week off really hurts you, and to add two or three or four, it’s hard to come back from that. I find that if you’re out for a month it takes about a month to get back to where you were before.
“Hopefully that’s not the case with Pasta. … It’s a tough time to be out, but he’s a different animal. He relies on different skills and different attributes out there that make him a great player. That’s why he’ll be fine when he comes back.”
The Bruins have a two-point lead over the Washington Capitals in the race for the first wild card spot in the Eastern Conference. The B’s have stumbled lately, but they too might be fine when Pastrnak returns.