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BLOG: Bastian Returns Saturday

The Devils forward will be back in the lineup for the first time since March 18

by Sam Kasan @SamiKasan /

NEWARK, N.J. - Forward Nate Bastian will return to the lineup when the Devils play the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden at 12:30 p.m. Saturday afternoon. 

"I feel comfortable out there and I think I'm in a good spot," Bastian said. "I think I'm going to play my first game back (Saturday)." 

Devils head coach Lindy Ruff later confirmed that Bastian would play his first game since a lower-body injury knocked him out of the lineup on March 18. 

Video: DEVILS MINUTE | Nate Bastian Returns

"It'll be an interesting test for him coming off of a significant amount of time off and an injury that sometimes is hard to come back off of," Ruff said. "It's great to see him back in the lineup. I think his first game back, maybe the minutes won't be as high that he might have been playing, but we get a guy with good size, a guy that's a penalty killer, and a guy that's an important part of our team."

Bastian, 23, locked down a regular spot on the team's fourth line with his physical play and grit. The 6-foot-4, 205-pound forward appeared in the first 27 games for the Devils this season, only being knocked out of the lineup by the injury. 

"It feels really good. It's great to be back and part of the team again," Bastian said. "I was happy with how I was doing before. Given the circumstances of the year, I missed four weeks and this year that's 15 games. I don't want people to forget about me. I'd like to pick up where I left off."

The Devils would welcome Bastian's return, particularly for the next two contests against the Rangers. The Kitchener, Ontario native's physicality has been missed during the previous two games against rival New York. The games have featured two fights, lots of hits and lots of intensity.

Bastian will have to balance his eagerness to get back in the lineup with being effective. 

"It's be tough for me to handle my emotions and don't overdo it," Bastian said. "I think it'll be a great game to come back into.

"If I can do my thing, be physical, get to the net, help get pucks past (Igor Shesterkin), that's my job."

Video: INJURY UPDATE | Nate Bastian 4.16.21

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