WILMINGTON, MA - Milan Lucic may not feel 100 percent following offseason surgery on his left wrist, but he's on the right track.
Since training camp began hit the ice on Friday, Lucic hasn't looked too far off from his usual self.
During Saturday's session at Ristuccia Arena, he ripped a shot in behind Tuukka Rask, before continuing the drill and racing on the backcheck. He hunted down Johnny Boychuk and took the body, creating a pile-up with Boychuk and defenseman Steve Eminger.
It was very Lucic.
The power forward may not look limited, but he's still being very cautious with his wrist. He can only practice; he hasn't been cleared yet for games.
"It's been good, it's been better than what I expected, which is obviously a good thing," Lucic told media following Saturday's session. "Just seeing my progression over the last two weeks with where it's gone, it's been good."
While the wrist itself is fully healed, he's working through stiffness, getting it to feel more comfortable and flexible.
The wrist was stuck in a cast for 12 weeks after surgery in May, and he hadn't even been able to do a push-up until early September, so there's some rust.
"You know, my shooting feels - I'm not going to say it's completely back to normal, but I can get to where I can get full pressure into my shot," said Lucic. "But it's just the battle stuff - I hadn't really practiced forechecking and hitting and things like that."
"That obviously doesn't come until game time, but as of right now, I think it's just being smart and going about everything the right way and taking it step by step."
"I think that's the good part of having camp here for myself, is taking everything step by step and having that positive attitude where you're going to get healthy and get back to where you want to be."
Lucic doesn't want to push it too hard early on in training camp, especially given his aggressive playing style.
"I think that's the biggest challenge right now, is you have to think a little bit about not going all out to where you have a possibility of hurting yourself," said Lucic. "But also, you know there's that fine line as well, where you want to go hard and see how far you can push it and see how ready it is."
"So that's the mindset and mentality right now and as far as that goes. Like I said, it's feeling pretty good right now, so you hope that it gets better and better as camp goes on."
Lucic likely won't be suiting up for the intersquad Black & Gold Scrimmage in Providence on Sunday at the Dunkin Donuts Center. With around 50 players at camp, there are plenty of bodies available.
"The games will come whenever I'm ready to play and I mean, you don't want to put yourself in a position where you're having setbacks right away," said Lucic. "There's two ways to look at: you can come back early and have an opportunity of having a setback, or you come back when you're fully ready and at your best."
"And I think the most important thing is to get healthy where you're able to come back and be your best, contribute at your best, and obviously, being the type of player - what I am for this team and how I play, it's probably not a good thing if I come back early and try to play a finesse game - I don't think it's good for myself, the team, or the fans, or anyone."
After the scrimmage, Boston has seven preseason games before the regular season opens on October 8, giving Lucic about two and half weeks to feel entirely healthy and ready to go.
"You just want to put yourself in a position where you're back to where you can play at 100 percent," said Lucic. "And if you have to miss a few - a Black & Gold game or a couple preseason games - to make sure that you are back at 100 percent, then you have to do whatever it takes."