David Pastrnak 'really excited' as he takes big step towards return

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David Pastrnak is getting close.

The Bruins’ star winger traded in the red no-contact jersey he wore at practice last week for a regular white practice jersey Monday and took some contact for the first time.

Coach Bruce Cassidy said that they’ll see how Pastrnak responds after his first contact practice and keep building him up. He said Pastrnak probably won’t play Tuesday or Thursday this week, but that he’s expected to travel with the team on their four-game road trip that begins Saturday and could return to game action during that time.

Pastrnak underwent a right hip arthroscopy and labral repair in September and was originally given a five-month timetable for his return, which would be mid-February. However, Cassidy said going into the season that it appeared Pastrnak was a little bit ahead of schedule, and Monday offered the latest confirmation of that.

“Definitely a little excitement. It’s been a long road,” Pastrnak said. “It’s been a long time, so I’m obviously itching to get out there. It was a good day today, obviously full practice with the boys, practice with somebody besides myself. Really excited. Hopefully get more good days like today.”

The Bruins’ offense struggled mightily without Pastrnak in the first few games this season, scoring just three regulation goals total in the first three games, but it has come roaring to life in the last two games with 10 regulation goals. Still, the return of last year’s Rocket Richard Trophy winner will obviously be a very welcome sight.

In other Bruins practice news, Patrice Bergeron, Matt Grzelcyk and Ondrej Kase were not on the ice Monday.

Cassidy said Bergeron was getting an extra maintenance day after a hard collision with the post Saturday, but that he would play Tuesday against the Penguins.

Grzelcyk suffered a lower-body injury on Thursday when he crashed awkwardly into the boards and missed Saturday night’s win over the Flyers as a result. Cassidy said he’ll have a chance to play Tuesday depending on how he feels.

Kase remains out with an upper-body injury with no timetable for his return.