Bruins center Patrice Bergeron took a step toward returning to action Friday but will not be in the lineup against the Colorado Avalanche at TD Garden Saturday.
Bergeron (core/groin injury) worked out pre-practice, then participated at near full speed wearing a red noncontact jersey during a 45-minute practice session at Warrior Ice Arena.
Bergeron, who has missed seven successive games and nine of the last 11, could play at Ottawa Monday.
“Red sweater, that’s good,” Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy said. “Participated in some line rushes. It wasn’t a heavy contact practice. Won’t play [Saturday], but once you have red sweater on, you’re that much closer.
“So I guess Monday becomes more of a target date for us, if there’s no setbacks.”
Cassidy questioned a penalty against David Pastrnak in the Bruins’ 4-3 overtime loss to the Blackhawks Thursday. Pastrnak was called for retaliation in a clash with Chicago defenseman Connor Murphy.
“I didn’t like the call in front of the net,” Cassidy said. “I thought he got cross-checked right in the ribs. Maybe the ref missed that. That’s when it’s like, really? Like if he goes after a guy because he got hit, he’s frustrated, put him in the box. That’s part of . . . you’ve got to have some discipline.
“But the call in front of the net, I didn’t agree with. Now, maybe we’d been on the power play a little bit and they were looking for something, or they just missed it, or chose not to call it. I can’t comment on what they did or didn’t see.
“But that is one that could have frustrated David. I don’t know if it did or didn’t. But that’s one, he’s protecting himself in a scrum. I think that should be nobody goes or they both go.”
Pastrnak (25-18—43), who has been held scoreless for two successive games, appears to have been targeted recently. He lost his helmet after absorbing a blind-side hit from Joel Armia in the Bruins’ 3-1 win over the Canadiens Sunday.
Asked if Pastrnak might have lost his cool, Cassidy said, “I think David knows the best way he can help this team win is by creating offense and scoring. So, if that’s not happening . . . maybe that’s part of it. I know he cares more about the team than his own stats.
“Of course, he wants to score, that could be leading into it. It has been three, four games, he has taken some hits and some of them are borderline late. Armia, I thought, was a little bit late. So we’ll keep an eye on it.
“I’ve always felt you hit their skill clean, you’ll settle the score in a hurry, things’ll calm down. Typically, that’s what we’ve experienced. Somebody’s going to hit Pasta, we go out next shift, bang [Patrick] Kane or [Jonathan] Toews, all of a sudden their guys might, ‘OK, you know what, put my guys in harm’s way.’
“It sort of sorts itself out, and that’s policing the game internally and the appropriate way in today’s game.”
Ritchie is close
Brett Ritchie (shoulder) could return Saturday. Ritchie is “skating better, so another practice under his belt — we’ll have to look at that in the morning,” Cassidy said. “If he goes in, obviously, have to take a right winger or move someone around. But he’s close.” . . . David Backes has produced a goal and assist in the last three games, after missing nearly a month with an upper-body injury. Backes finished a one-timer against the Canadiens and assisted Joakim Nordquist against the Blackhawks. Backes has been playing Anders Bjork and Sean Kuraly on one line and Par Lindholm and Nordquist on another. “Fits in easy with both lines,” Cassidy said. “Scored a big goal for us on the power play on the bumper. Made a play on the net [vs. Chicago] — something we were trying to emphasize a little bit more of, especially those two bottom lines. They are probably going to score more that way. They’re harder to contain that way, going to the net.”