John Tavares is feeling healthy again, at least physically.
But the Toronto Maple Leafs center admits his pride remains bruised after his team was eliminated in seven games by the Boston Bruins in the Eastern Conference First Round in April.
"I'm still bitter," Tavares said Friday at the Marner All-Star Invitational, a fundraising event hosted by teammate Mitchell Marner benefitting his Marner Assist Fund. "We were up 3-2 in that series. We thought we were in the driver's seat and we just didn't find a way to put the nail in the coffin … to really finish them off. It's something we have to learn from.
"At least I'm feeling better and back on the ice."
After the playoff elimination, Tavares agreed to represent Canada at the 2019 IIHF World Championship in Slovakia but sustained an oblique injury during the first practice and returned home. He stayed off skates for more than a month to heal but recently returned to the ice.
"I actually just had a really good week where I skated a lot with a lot of guys," he said. "Picked up the intensity and competitiveness.
"I feel really good. It's full speed ahead now."
Tavares, who signed a seven-year, $77 million contract with Toronto on July 1, 2018, set NHL career highs with 47 goals and 88 points in 82 regular-season games last season. He had five points (two goals, three assists) in the postseason.