NASHVILLE — Nick Bonino arrived in town on crutches, wearing a walking boot.
Today he was taking power play reps at the Penguins’ practice.
Such is life in the Stanley Cup Final.
“It’s not fun,” Bonino said of testing his injured foot during Sunday’s media availability. “It’s day-to-day, and we’ll see what happens tomorrow. I just wanted to get out there and try to move a little bit.”
Bonino dipped in and out of practice, wearing a left skate padded with extra protection. This came after he sat out Game 3 with what’s officially classified as a lower-body ailment — though clearly, it’s a foot problem — suffered while blocking a shot in the first period of Game 2.
There’s no denying Bonino wants back in, and there’s no denying the Penguins would love to have him. Through the first three games of the Stanley Cup Final, they’re 1-for-14 on the power play, with just four total shots. And that lone man advantage goal came on a 5-on-3.
Bonino would certainly be a boost.
He finished fifth on the team in goals (six) with the man advantage this season, and has averaged 1:29 power play TOI this postseason. That’s down slightly from the 1:43 he averaged during the regular season. He’s a deft passer, blessed with good vision. Both his experience and familiarity on the PP would seemingly pay dividends.
In that vein, consider what head coach Mike Sullivan said of his power play looks at practice today.
“We practiced some concepts that we’ve been working on all season,” Sullivan said. “It’s not anything that’s new to them. But obviously we haven’t had the success in this particular series, but we believe that these guys are capable. We’re just trying to reinforce some strategies.”
With all that said, Bonino knows if he’s going to dress, he has to be able to play. Getting on the lineup card and then having to exit early would put his team at a decided disadvantage, and could cause Sullivan some major matchup headaches.
“You’ve got to be honest at this time of the year,” he explained. “If you go in, you’ve got to assume you’re going to play the whole game.”
So Bonino tested it out, as injured players are wont to do at this time of the year.
It just didn’t sound like he loved the results.