By Carrie Young | Follow me on Twitter @carrieyoung512
The Bruins are set to play an exhibition game against the Columbus Blue Jackets tonight in Toronto. This will be the first game that the Bruins play since the league suspended the 2019-20 season due to the COVID-19 pandemic back in March.
Coach Bruce Cassidy told media members today that forward David Pastrnak will be in the lineup tonight. Pastrnak was deemed “unfit to participate” in practice on July 16th after apparently having come into contact with a person who tested positive for COVID-19. This required him to serve another 14-day self-isolation period, the first being after he traveled back to the United States from the Czech Republic earlier in July.
Cassidy: David Pastrnak will play; Nick Ritchie will not. Tuukka Rask will start.— Amalie Benjamin (@AmalieBenjamin) July 30, 2020
Pastrnak apologized publicly for the actions that kept him away from practice and the rest of the team. The contact with the infected person took place during a skating session at a local rink. He confirmed that he tested negative for the virus and is ready to help the team once the playoffs begin.
“I felt great,” Pastrnak said about his return to the ice. “I was actually surprised. I love the game and I will always be up [for playing].”https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js
Teammate Patrice Bergeron was impressed with what he saw when Pastrnak returned to practice.
“[The rest of the team] has some catching up to do. He’s looking great,” Bergeron said on Wednesday. “Looking like Pasta out there, like he hasn’t missed a beat.”
Pastrnak is now known as one of the best scorers in the league, especially dangerous from his spot at the left circle during the power play. He has also been a key to the team’s success in the playoffs. Fans were understandably concerned that he was kept out of practice for so long, as his superstar status and pure talent would leave a gaping hole if he was excluded from the Bruins lineup. Luckily, it seems that all is well with the Czech winger.
Pastrnak is looking to continue a strong season after sharing the Rocket Richard Trophy with Alex Ovechkin for leading the league in goals through the regular season. Though he missed a significant amount of practice time with the rest of the team, he will likely not be too far behind the rest of the league considering the long break. Tonight’s exhibition game will serve as a measuring stick to see how prepared Pastrnak and his teammates are to compete in playoff hockey.
Expect Pastrnak to slot into his normal spot on the top line with Bergeron and Brad Marchand. This line will see a lot of ice time once the postseason gets underway. The puck drops at 7:00 ET tonight from Scotiabank Arena in Toronto.