BOSTON - Joakim Nordstrom made his training camp debut on Saturday after missing the opening day of on-ice sessions as he continues to work his way back from a foot injury suffered in the Stanley Cup Final.
The 27-year-old donned a maroon non-contact jersey during the morning's first session, before retreating to the dressing room for the second.
"It felt good, thankful to be back out there," said Nordstrom, who skated on a line with Sam Asselin and Trent Frederic, also making his camp debut. "Step one for me today, just being back with the group for a little bit and it felt good. Hopefully wake up [on Sunday] still feeling good."
Nordstrom blocked a shot with his left foot during the Cup Final and was in a boot for much of the summer, which limited his ability to train during what was already a shortened offseason.
"It was difficult not being able to work out and prepare as you want, but it is what it is," said Nordstrom. "I had good help back home in Sweden. I came back here fairly early for camp, too, to make sure I could do whatever I can to be ready. I guess I skated full level today and it felt really good."
The Stockholm native was a strong contributor to the Bruins' postseason run last spring, suiting up for 23 of the team's 24 postseason contests, while notching three goals and five assists. He also collected seven goals and five assists in 70 regular-season games.
"I thought I felt pretty good throughout the season," said Nordstrom. "Obviously towards the end I had a little bit better production than early on, but stayed with the same line for a longer period of time. Just confidence, too, that plays a role."
Nordstrom became a valued member of the Bruins' energy trio, teaming up with Sean Kuraly, Chris Wagner, and Noel Acciari to form one of the best fourth lines in the National Hockey League.
"I just think that we all play kind of similar [styles] and we made clear early on what kind of game plan we wanted and how we needed to play to be successful," said Nordstrom, who also saw significant playing time with David Krejci and Jake DeBrusk earlier in the season.
"I don't think we changed too much throughout the playoffs or at the end of the regular season. I thought we tried to just keep building on what we were doing well."
Video: Nordstrom On Skating for the First Time at Camp
Working Back In
Matt Grzelcyk has not missed any time through two days of practices, but said on Saturday that he had been battling through a nagging injury in the weeks leading up to camp. The blue liner, who is entering his third full season in the NHL, was banged up during off-ice training.
"No, had nothing to do with last season," said Grzelcyk, who played just three games in the Stanley Cup Final because an upper-body injury. "Just [was] getting ready to go to camp a few weeks before and did it in the gym. Something I've never really gone through before, but luckily we had the medical staff here and I wasn't too far away in order to communicate better."
Grzelcyk rehabbed on the ice with skating and skills coach Kim Brandvold and said he is "pretty much back to 100 percent."
"I'm feeling really good now," said Grzelcyk. "Just talking to the trainers making sure there's no hiccups along the way. Right now, I feel good. Just want to make sure after skates I go to check in with them right away, don't want to keep anything a secret."
Given how deep the Bruins played into the spring, monitoring those nagging bumps and bruises will become even more vital early in the season.
"It's going to be especially important early so that we don't kind of burn out by the end of the year," said Grzelcyk. "The coaching staff and medical staff are obviously very aware of it, and we are as players too, but at the same time you want to make sure you're in good condition, ready to go when the puck drops in October."
Video: Grzelcyk Speaks to Media on Day 3 of Training Camp
Sticking It to 'Em
David Pastrnak has spent plenty of time around Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand over the last few seasons. And it appears that playing alongside two of the best all-around forwards in the game has begun to rub off on the young winger.
While his offensive talents continue to emerge, Pastrnak has also developed some strong defensive habits, which were on full display during Saturday's practice. On one play towards the beginning of practice, the 23-year-old stepped up to Charlie Coyle in the neutral zone and poked away a pass with his stick.
It was a minor play during an early-season practice, but it nonetheless caught the eye of his teammates and coaches.
"He's getting better every year," said Marchand. "I think it really helps when you play with a guy like Bergy [who has won four Selke Trophies as the NHL's best defensive forward] and you realize how defensively responsible you need to be to be an elite player and take the next step, and he's doing that.
"I'm sure we're talking about this because you guys have seen how incredible his stick's been in camp so far…he's a Selke candidate early here, so we'll see how it goes."
Video: Brad Marchand Chats with Media
Time for Battle
The second day of practices saw an uptick in physicality and intensity as coach Bruce Cassidy put the players through more battle-focused drills. Things ratcheted up a notch during the second sessions for both groups on Saturday with the players facing off in 1-on-1 battles below the goal line.
For those like Anders Bjork, who is working his way back after season-ending shoulder surgery, the drill was a solid test of his strength and confidence.
"I think it's good, especially coming off a shoulder injury, to kind of take some hits and get used to that, absorbing hits and stuff and giving some too," said Bjork. "My shoulder's held up pretty good, so I think it's just, from a confidence standpoint, good to receive some of those hits and battles like that."
After going through two major shoulder surgeries over the last year-plus, the winger is putting a focus on being assertive, which he believes will help him avoid injuries moving forward.
"I think it's something I try to work on, not being hesitant and going to battles with courage," said Bjork. "I think when you hold out a little bit and you're hesitant, that's when you can run into injury trouble because you can be in an awkward position. That's kind of my focus to go hard and strong on those battles."