Pastrnak could return to Bruins sooner than expected after hip surgery

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David Pastrnak is ahead of schedule in his recovery from hip surgery and the Boston Bruins forward could return to the lineup sooner than expected, coach Bruce Cassidy said Wednesday.

Pastrnak was expected to need five months to recover from a right hip arthroscopy and labral repair Sept. 16.

“I would say best guess would be he would be in with us through this week in a red, ‘stay-out-of-the-heavy-stuff’ [jersey],” Cassidy said. “And then hopefully by next week he joins us and then see how close he is to game-ready. Where that puts him exactly, I don’t know.”

Pastrnak practiced at TD Garden ahead of Boston’s game against the Philadelphia Flyers on Thursday (7 p.m. ET; SN, TVAS, NESN, NBCSP, NHL.TV). He wore a no-contact jersey but participated in line rush drills. The Bruins played their first three games on the road, giving Pastrnak limited ability to practice the first week of the season.

“He is ahead of schedule from the original mid-February date,” Cassidy said,comparing Pastrnak’s recovery to that of Marchand, who returned from offseason surgery at the start of the season. “How much remains to be seen, a bit like ‘Marshy’ at the end there. The contact part started, he had to leave a couple practices because you just don’t know how you’re going to react. That’s the unknown with ‘Pasta’ going forward. The rest of his rehab’s going very well.

“It would just be how much could he recover from contact, and then when he’s fully cleared to be out of harm’s way with contact. That’s still a little bit away, but should be before his original date of mid-February.”

The Bruins (1-1-1) have not scored a 5-on-5 goal without Pastrnak. Last season, he tied Alex Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals for the NHL lead with 48 goals, including 25 at 5-on-5, which was third behind Auston Matthews of the Toronto Maple Leafs (30) and Ovechkin (27).

Jake DeBrusk has skated in Pastrnak’s spot at right wing on the top line with Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand, and rookie Jack Studnicka also has seen time there.

Photo courtesy of Michael Penhollow/Boston Bruins

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