BRIGHTON, Mass – Just as quickly as Ondrej Kase flashed as a Boston Bruins playoff possibility with his appearance at the end of the regular season, it now appears like that door is going to be shut again for a while.
The oft-injured Bruins right winger has been ruled out for Saturday night’s Game 1 against the Washington Capitals with an upper body injury suffered after six plus minutes of ice time earlier this week in his first NHL appearance since January.
The injury doesn’t appear to be related to the suspected concussion that caused him to miss 50 plus games this season, but instead was related to the subpar conditioning that comes with not playing or practicing with the group for the previous four months.
“Upper-body, nothing’s changed there,” Cassidy said. “Not skating with us, not skating with the taxi squad. Until we have something more, that’s how he’ll be classified. So, he will not be available for Game 1, and we’ll just see where he goes from there. Again, with him this year it’s been a lot of wait-and-see, and that’s where we’re back to.”
While it doesn’t make sense to completely shut Kase down for the Stanley Cup playoffs given the unpredictable nature of injuries and attrition in what the Bruins hope will be a two-month postseason run, it certainly doesn’t seem like the Bruins should be counting on much from the 24-year-old winger. Kase has produced a handful of assists in his entire two-year run with the Black and Gold, so the bar has been lowered significantly for him after several injuries and COVID-19 quarantine setbacks have stunted his development in Boston.
“It’s been pretty hard for me. I only played six or seven games during the regular season, so it’s a very hard start for me playing for Boston,” said the Bruins winger prior to this latest upper body injury. “I hope I can help the team. I haven’t played too many games here, so I need to show the team that I am important to play here.”
Still, Kase come in handy if he gets healthy and begins practicing regularly with the Bruins, and if a rash of injuries should befall the right side of their forward group. Kase still has top-6 skill and potential based on his body of work in Anaheim prior to coming to Boston, but the simple truth is that the Bruins have better players than him on the right side with David Pastrnak, Craig Smith and Charlie Coyle as their top three right wings entering the postseason.
Here’s the lineup based on Friday’s practice at Warrior Ice Arena: