WILMINGTON, Mass. — Considering it was just a fracture to his frontal sinus bone, Boston Bruins winger Michael Ryder feels fortunate.

After he practiced with the club today at Ristuccia Arena wearing a red “no-contact” jersey and then was bag skated on his first day back,  Ryder explained how he feared for the worst after he was high sticked by Ottawa’s Antoine Vermette Feb. 5.

“The last thing I expected, actually, was it to be a fracture after it was over. But I was just lucky it wasn’t my eye,” said Ryder after he caught his breath and had some water. “That was a major concern. I’ve seen a lot of guys get hit there and some guys get really bad damage. For me it was fortunate to just be a fracture and it can heal.”

The red jersey wasn’t the only new addition to Ryder’s gear. He was also wearing a full, black cage like youth hockey players wear. He said he hadn’t worn one since he was 16. While the one he wore today was too small and restricted his breathing, he knows that even a better-fitting one will take some adjusting to.

“It’s a little different – you’ve got these lines and the little gap areas where you can’t see. So it’s a little tough, so it might take a little getting used to,” said Ryder, who noted that there’s still some pain in his face just one week after surgery.

Ryder will join the Bruins on their upcoming three-game road trip to the Southeast. That moves him a little closer to returning and helping the Bruins, who are in the midst of their worst stretch of the season with four straight losses.

“You know you want to be out there and try to help the team. I think this is the first time we’re going through a little skid. I don’t think we need to panic out there but it’s tough being home just watching on TV.”