David Pastrnak has tested negative COVID-19, but the Boston Bruins forward is back in isolation after coming in contact with someone who has tested positive.

His agent, J.P. Barry, explained Pastrnak’s absence from practice Thursday and Friday to The Athletic’s Fluto Shinzawa.

Ondrej Kase, a friend of Pastrnak and a fellow native of the Czech Republic, also missed workouts Thursday and Friday after skating with the team Wednesday. It’s not clear whether his situation mirrors Pastrnak’s.

The NHL, per its agreement with the Players’ Association, is not revealing any players’ health status in regards to the coronavirus. But not commenting has spawned speculation, and it put Bruins Coach Bruce Cassidy in an awkward position Friday as he was forced to say Pastrnak and Kase were “unfit to participate,” which is the league’s official terminology for anyone missing for undisclosed health reasons.

When asked if there was an update, Cassidy said:

“None to speak of. Still unfit to participate. Hopefully they’re back in there soon.”


Upon returning from the Czech Republic, Pastrnak and Case had to go through protocols for reentering the United States before they could participate in practice. But their participation Wednesday appeared to signal they were fully back in the fold before Thursday’s surprise absence.=

Pastrnak was in the midst of a career year before the NHL shutdown on March 12. He had 48 goals and 47 assists in 70 games, and earned a share of the Maurice “Rocket” Richard trophy along with Washington’s Alex Ovechkin for leading the NHL in goals.

ON THE AFTERNOON when he officially was named a finalist for the Vezina Trophy, Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask admitted Friday that he’s not sure if he’ll play every game during the playoffs.
When the NHL resumes on Aug. 1 in the hub cities of Toronto (Eastern Conference) and Edmonton (Western), Rask and the Bruins play three games against Philadelphia, Tampa Bay and Washington to determine their playoff seed. Then there are four best-of-seven rounds for the teams that make it to the Stanley Cup final.

Because the NHL is eager to get as much hockey completed as quickly as possible, the schedule is tight. Going from four months off quickly into the playoffs makes Rask wonder if many teams, including the Bruins, will go with just one netminder.

“I’d be surprised if you see goalies play every minute of every game during these playoffs because the situation is so different,” Rask said. “But you never know. I’m looking forward to it. We’ve had a couple of good goalies the past couple of years, so I think we’re in a good spot.”

Boston is better prepared to use two goalies than most teams. Veteran Jaroslav Halak has backed up Rask, playing more games than most No. 2 goalies in hopes of having Rask better rested for the playoffs. In his two years as a Bruin, Halak, 35, is 40-17-10 with a 2.36 GAA and a .921 save percentage.


Halak also has playoff experience, with the Canadiens and Islanders.

Rask was one of the NHL’s goalies best before the league shut down due to the coronavirus on March 12. Rask, who won the Vezina in 2014, was 26-8-6 with five shutouts, a 2.12 goals-against average and a .929 save percentage. He led the NHL in both goals-against average and save percentage (minimum 30 starts) and was tied for second in shutouts.

Rask, 33, is hoping to regain his form.

“I took a long break where I wasn’t really thinking about hockey at all. Now when we’ve gotten back into training,” he said. “I haven’t noticed any difference in my game. It helps to have some years under your belt. It might take a couple of weeks to really get back in your rhythm, but then again, the key is not to try to do too much out there.”

A year ago, Rask got more rest before the playoffs than many other goalies. This year, everybody will be rested to start, but Halak serves as a valuable insurance plan.

“Everyone has the same amount of rest now. Nobody has an advantage there. We’ve had the luxury of sharing net with Jaro the past couple of years and it’s worked out great for us,” Rask said. “As far as the playoffs are concerned, you never know. You lay off for four months and go right into playoff hockey, there could be some injuries – groins or hips.

“Everybody has been off for four months now. It’s not the same situation that it would have been in March-April. Everybody is starting from scratch, trying to recapture that feeling you had as a team when the quarantine period started. It’s going to be tough. We’re just trying to capture that energy we had and start off strong.”

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