For the first time since breaking his finger, Ryan O’Reilly met with the media to discuss his return to practice, his injury rehab, and the plan to ramp up for the playoffs.
How does the finger feel right now?
O’Reilly: It feels good. It has been four weeks now since it happened, but it feels good. We’re progressing. It is not 100% yet. We have to be smart. The goal is to be 100% for the playoffs.
It was nice to be out there skating with the guys. We are getting close here.
Would you be playing if this was the playoffs right now?
O’Reilly: Possibly. It is tough to say. We are in a good position with having the points.
It does feel good. It is just being smart and making sure we don’t have setbacks and can be ready for the right time.
Was there a sinking feeling and you knew right away when the puck hit you?
O’Reilly: I didn’t really know until I got off and was getting changed. Paul [Ayotte] the trainer came over, asked, and wanted to look at it. I kind of saw it was crooked. I knew it wasn’t good.
We saw the x-ray, and obviously, it was disappointing. But I didn’t really know. They said I probably needed surgery, so I didn’t know how long. Am I done for the season or not?
It was kind of good news that I wouldn’t be out too long and that it happened early enough. It wasn’t later in the season. I am just focused on getting ready for the playoffs.
How long did it take for you to find out the severity of it?
O’Reilly: It wasn’t too long after. They kind of gave me a timeline of four-to-six weeks after doing the surgery on it. I was really disappointed, but that kind of gave me relief with regard to the playoffs. That’s all that really matters.
What is the final piece you are waiting for until it would be 100%?
O’Reilly: The shooting and passing feel great. It is just the other stuff — the stick battles and all of that, and just being able to trust that it’s 100% strong in that.
Again, that is going to come. It is progressing. I feel like I could push it harder, but there is no point. We just have to be smart with it and make sure it heals the right way. It will help me down the road.
Does the fact that it is the lower hand on the stick make it more impactful?
O’Reilly: The top hand does a lot of work, too. Both do different things. For faceoffs, it is the bottom hand that carries a lot of the force, too. Either or play a vital part in it. It is just an unfortunate break. It happens.
Are you going to wear a modified glove when you come back to protect it?
O’Reilly: Possibly. Right now, I am wearing something that can protect it a little better. As we progress, we will kind of revisit it and see.
Have you circled a game for a return?
O’Reilly: No, we are kind of just taking it every couple of days, evaluating it, and seeing where we are at. We don’t really have a target yet.
Is it nice to be back into the full practice?
O’Reilly: I don’t like being in the red [jersey]. It stands out a little too much.
It was a good first practice to get back into the feel and be out there with other bodies. I think it will start from there.
How significant are the final few games and making sure you get into a game or two?
O’Reilly: Those will be great. It will be good for our lineup, too, to see how we are going to approach that first game and for me to get the timing back. You can skate all you want in practice, but the feel of the game, the pushing, the competing is something that you can’t really replicate.