If all goes well and the NHL opens training camps July 10, no one should expect players to be in playoff condition.
With the possible exception of David Pastrnak.
Looking to add a Stanley Cup to his first Rocket Richard Trophy, the Bruins sniper has been hard at work in Prague. With a group of about 10 NHLers (including retired Marek Zidlicky), Pastrnak skates twice a week for about two hours, with an hourlong, no-contact scrimmage. He works out five or six times a week. Soccer and tennis are regular activities.
“I feel pretty good,” Pastrnak said on a Monday afternoon Zoom call, his face slightly reddened by the sun. “I’ve been really active and moving around. I pretty much leave the house at 10 a.m and come back for dinner.”
He hasn’t set a date to return stateside, but it will be “pretty soon . . . a little bit before training camp.” The NHL has proposed July 10 as a date for camp to open.
The first thing he’ll do when he gets back to Boston?
“I don’t know,” he said. “Get tested for COVID?”
After that: seeing his teammates and hitting the practice rink.
As usual, Pastrnak was in a chipper mood. Updates from Pasta’s world:
▪ He doesn’t seem bothered by the idea of spending more than two months sheltered at one of the NHL’s hub cities.
“I don’t have kids,” said Pastrnak, 24. “I just have a girlfriend. I’m young. For me it’s just going to be like on the road. We’re going to be there for a while. It’s not going to change much for me. I’m just going to think about it like a road game.”
▪ Playing without fans, as the NHL is likely to do, is “definitely going to be something new for everybody,” Pastrnak said. “Especially the guys who haven’t played a hockey game in 20 years without fans like Zdeno [Chara], right?
"I’m watching soccer games and it’s really weird. You can hear every single player talking on the field. I have to be honest, I don’t even know what to expect. I’m expecting the unexpected.”
▪ He has no qualms with the NHL’s expanded playoff format, which will have the Presidents Trophy-winning Bruins (44-14-12, 100 points) playing a round-robin for their No. 1 overall seed. He anticipates they might earn it again.
“I think we were a better team than last year,” Pastrnak said. “We’ll see. We need to get back into the work and stay healthy, most importantly. We’re going to get some time. Really excited to start the playoffs. The playoffs are the best part of hockey.”
▪ Whenever the NHL hands out awards for 2019-20, Pastrnak will be given a share of the Rocket Richard Trophy as the top goal scorer (he tied Alex Ovechkin with 48). At an awards ceremony, a highlight reel would play of his four-strike afternoon against Anaheim, his through-the-legs shot against Toronto, the off-the-rush slappers that beat Carey Price and Pekka Rinne from the right circle, and all those one-time rockets from the opposite side.
His most recent goal came 100 days ago Monday. On March 7, his 60-foot slapper through traffic beat Andrei Vasilevskiy, standing as one of the bright spots of a 5-3 loss to Tampa Bay. It was No. 48 of the season, and it did not seem he would need many of Boston’s 12 remaining games to collect Nos. 49 and 50.
But Pastrnak isn’t dwelling on missing out on his first 50-goal season.
“To be honest, it’s a little sad, but I was actually more mad about 100 points than scoring 50,” he said. “Overall it’s a good season. Some things happen that you can’t control.
"For me, I’m really happy and I felt good the whole season. I’m playing with great teammates and linemates that I can learn from every single day. That’s the part I’m focusing on.
"A guy like Bergy [Patrice Bergeron] being my mentor every single day in the locker room and off the ice. He’s awesome. Without him I wouldn’t be where I’m at.”