After essentially missing the entire regular season for the Boston Bruins, it looks like Ondrej Kase might make a return just ahead of the Stanley Cup playoffs. The 25-year-old Kase has been out since the second game of the season back in January after taking a high hit from Miles Wood in a game against the New Jersey Devils.
But he made a surprise return to the Bruins practice group on Friday for the first in four months and took part in some drills with jostling and puck battles if not full-on physical contact. The shifty right wing won’t be playing on Saturday afternoon against the New York Rangers, but he hasn’t been ruled out from the final two regular season games vs. the New York Islanders and Washington Capitals to close out the year.
While it’s very unlikely that Kase would be in the B’s playoff lineup to start after missing the whole season, Boston Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy would certainly welcome him as a lineup option at some point.
“Once he’s in contact, [Friday] wasn’t full blown middle of the year practice, but there was some jostling out there, some battling,” said Cassidy of Kase, who played less than 20 minutes of the entire season without registering a point this year. “Let’s see how he feels [on Saturday]. He won’t go in [for the Saturday matinee]. But if there’s no ill effects from today, that really ups his chances for Monday or Tuesday. That will depend on where we are, what’s the best fit for us and then, is he ready? What’s best for him, as well.
“Try to merge those two. We’ve always said if he’s in a normal colored jersey in practice, going through what everyone else is going through, then that’s probably the last hurdle, typically, for guys to get in the lineup. We would like to see him, if he does get cleared. It’s been a long time. A lot of catching up to do. It’s still nice to know what is available to you should we need to put [Kase] in the lineup in the playoffs at some point.”
It will certainly make it a lot easier to mix Kase into the lineup if everything is clinched for East Division playoff spots by the beginning of next week. Complicating matters is the injury to Charlie Coyle (upper body) that continues to keep him on the shelf after missing Thursday night’s win over the Rangers, an absence that could open up an unexpected spot among the Boston Bruins forward group if it lingers into next week.
Cassidy indicated Coyle won’t be out long, but nothing is certain until a player is back on the ice practicing again.
Either way adding Kase to the mix can only make the Bruins forwards deeper and more dangerous as they’ve already become a deep, multi-faceted group down the stretch since the NHL trade deadline. Here’s the lineup from Friday’s practice at Warrior Arena with Coyle and Kevan Miller (maintenance) missing from the ice: