David Pastrnak expects to make his season debut for the Boston Bruins against the Washington Capitals at Capital One Arena on Saturday (7 p.m. ET; ESPN+, NBCSWA, NESN, NHL.TV).
“I feel great,” Pastrnak said Friday. “It’s been a long road, a lot of practices behind me. I feel ready. I feel 100 percent. It’s been awesome. We’ll see what’s going to happen, but I’m pretty sure I’m ready to go.”
The forward had a right hip arthroscopy and labral repair Sept. 16, which came with an expected five-month recovery time. He has been practicing with contact since Monday.
Coach Bruce Cassidy said that final medical clearances would need to be given before Pastrnak officially can be ruled in, but anticipates Pastrnak will return to his customary spot on the top line with forwards Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand on Saturday.
“It sounds like he’s checked all the boxes, but tomorrow we’ll make that decision,” Cassidy said. “So, trending very well. I think today was a very light day for him. They pushed him this week. So if he wakes up, no residual effects, feels good, my guess is he’s got a good chance to play tomorrow night.
“The medical department will make that decision tomorrow, but we have the intention of playing him if we get those clearances tomorrow and it sounds like there’s a very good chance we will.”
The Bruins struggled early without Pastrnak, scoring three goals in their first three games, none at 5-on-5. But they’ve been moving in the right direction offensively since then, scoring 17 goals, including nine at 5-on-5, during their four-game winning streak.
Pastrnak, who tied Capitals forward Alex Ovechkin for the NHL lead with 48 goals last season, only can help.
He said that he’s thrilled to nearing his return, especially now that his body is feeling better.
“Obviously every injury brings you down a little bit,” he said. “This thing was going on for so long that I got kind of used to that, to be honest. It’s been going on for like a year almost.
“That’s why I’m having way more fun skating right now, because it’s pain-free and it’s been a while since I was pain-free skating.”
The rest of the Bruins forward lines are unknown. Forward Jake DeBrusk likely won’t play because of a lower-body injury and forward Jack Studnicka sustained an undisclosed injury against the Penguins on Thursday and also could be out.