BOSTON — Brad Marchand will return ahead of schedule for the Boston Bruins after having double hip surgery this offseason.
The left wing practiced in his usual spot on the top line beside Patrice Bergeron and Jake DeBrusk on Wednesday. He also practiced on the top power-play unit and led the stretch at the end of practice.
The Bruins, who have won six of their first seven games (6-1-0), host the Detroit Red Wings at TD Garden on Thursday (7 pm ET; SNE, SNO, SNP, NESN, BSDET, ESPN+, SN NOW) .
“I’d like to see [Marchand] tomorrow; that’d be five weeks ahead of schedule,” Boston coach Jim Montgomery said. “I don’t expect him to play tomorrow, no. He’s ahead of schedule. He’s going to play before Thanksgiving (Nov. 24). As you can tell, he’s starting to look good out there. His timing is starting to come. Whatever the doctors have said, it’s hard to push that beyond a certain limit of your recovery time.”
Marchand had a hip arthroscopy and labral repair on both hips May 27. The original recovery timeline was set at six months, putting his return at the end of November, but it’s clear that he will return before then.
“I would like to try to speed it up, but that’s out of my hands,” Marchand said. “So, I just kind of let the trainers and doctors do their part.”
When Montgomery was asked if 10 days or two weeks for Marchand to return would be possible, he said, “If it’s his decision or my decision, yes it is. I’m begging doctors every day.”
Montgomery did say Marchand would not travel with the Bruins for their game at the Columbus Blue Jackets on Friday. After that, Boston next plays at the Pittsburgh Penguins on Nov. one.
Marchand said there will still aspects of his game and his fitness that were not where he’d like them to be, including his timing and strength. But he’s continuing to make progress, though for the timing in particular, he’s likely to need game action to fully get it back.
“Getting closer, for sure,” Marchand said. “Every time I get out there with the full team and do the full-team practices, it’s different. You can see my timing and stuff is still off, but definitely every day getting closer.”
Marchand said he’s not entirely happy with his strength, but he also called it “nitpicking,” saying he’s very close to where he’d like to be at the end of a normal summer.
“I’m not far off. I’m still ahead of everyone else,” he quipped.
As for the rest of his recovery, Marchand said he’s pleased.
“My range of motion feels awesome,” he said. “I’m really happy with how I feel coming back and figuring that all out. Very happy with the pain as well. It’s been six or seven years since I have played without pain in my legs and groins and hips and stuff. So, it’s a treat to not have to worry about that moving forward. It feels really good.”
Marchand acknowledged that the Bruins’ success has helped him take his time, knowing they are focused on the long-term goals, including the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Even without Marchand and top defenseman Charlie McAvoywho also was set to be out for six months after a left shoulder arthroscopic stabilization procedure June 3, the Bruins have been rolling.
“It’s a double-edged sword,” he said. “You want to be part of the team’s success, but it makes it very easy to take the time that I need to come back when the team is winning the way they are. If we were 1-6, it would be a completely different story. I probably would have been back a month ago.”