For the past seven weeks, the forward has been recovering from a foot fracture that he sustained when he blocked a shot on Oct. 27 against Arizona at TD Garden. Pastrnak played two games following the injury. Initial X-rays on the foot had come back normal, but then a CT scan revealed a small, non-displaced fracture in his left foot.
The injury has caused Pastrnak to miss 18 games and he is expected to miss his 19th on Monday night, when the Bruins host the Edmonton Oilers.
There is currently no time frame for his return.
“No timeline yet on him,” Bruins Head Coach Claude Julien said Monday morning after the team’s pregame skate at TD Garden.”
The bench boss was also asked by a reporter if it was possible for Pastrnak to go on a conditioning stint in Providence once he’s cleared to play.
“Whatever we do with him will be up to upper management,” said Julien.
Pastrnak is taking it one day at a time, easing his way back into the group.
“It’s been a while so it’s great to be back on the ice with the team,” Pastrnak said after the skate, speaking with media for the first time in about a month and a half. “Just trying to get back and take it hard and practice to get back into shape.”
He’s trying not to have a return date in mind.
“I don’t really think about it right now — just trying to go day by day and get back into shape and work hard,” he said.
Before joining the group, Pastrnak had been skating on his own for at least a week. He was put through his paces by Strength and Conditioning Coach John Whitesides and even General Manager Don Sweeney on Friday at Ristuccia Arena.
Being off his feet — and in a boot and crutches for a period of time — affected his conditioning. Now he’s working to get his strength back.
“It was seven weeks, you know, and I was on the bike still but nothing compared to skating,” he said. “It’s hard, obviously, but I’ve been skating for a week now and it’s no timetable now and take it slowly and practice hard every day.”
The recovery process for Pastrnak hasn’t necessarily been easy from a mental standpoint, either. With the down time, he caught up with friends in Providence and he would call his mother back home and touch base with his family, who is coming over for Christmas time (along with his dog, Apple, whom he misses).
He has needed the extra time for his foot to heal, though.
“Seven weeks — it wasn’t a good injury, so better to take more time and get it healed fully,” said Pastrnak. “So we take it slowly and it’s nice to be back on the ice.”
It was harder to deal with the time frame, given the circumstances. After blocking the shot on Oct. 27, Pastrnak suited up in back-to-back road games in Florida and Tampa Bay. He just thought his foot was swollen, and that the pain would subside. Such was not the case.
“I played with it two games, so it was surprising for me, but I’m happy I’m on the ice, so that’s what I’m focusing on right now,” he said.
He no longer has pain. He feels 100 percent. He wishes he was playing, and not watching.
“It’s tough. I thought, in my head it was just a blocked shot you know, ‘it’s just swollen so it’s going to get better,’ and it was kind of the same, so we had enough time to look at it again and get it back to recovery,” said Pastrnak, thinking back to when the injury first occurred.
With more practices, conditioning and contact, he will get himself closer to a potential return.
But when he is ready to play again, he’ll have been out of game action for almost two months. It likely won’t be a simple transition.
The forward was asked if he would welcome a conditioning stint in Providence to get back up to game speed.
“You know, that’s not a question for me — more for the organization, you know,” said Pastrnak. “And I’m happy to be in this organization and whatever they want me to do, I will be happy to do it.”