BRIGHTON, Mass – The Bruins may continue to grapple with lineup challenges even after arriving at the Hub City in Toronto as it’s not clear whether forward Ondrej Kase will be traveling with the rest of the team on Sunday.
The B’s are expected to fly to Toronto late Sunday afternoon after one last round of testing for all 50 people in the B’s party headed to the Hub City, and Bruce Cassidy confirmed after Saturday’s practice that David Pastrnak and Nick Ritchie are expected to travel with the big group. It’s still in question if Kase will be headed to Toronto with the rest of his teammates as it’s been less than two weeks since his one-day appearance at the Bruins practice facility.
“Pastrnak and Ritchie I believe will be traveling. Kase I’m not sure [about]. I guess we’ll get confirmation on that [on Sunday]. That’s my understanding,” said Bruce Cassidy. “We all get one last test today and hopefully we get a good result tomorrow and can head on the plane. Stay healthy. Spend some quality time with your family or the people that are important to you. Stay away from people that you haven’t been in regular contact with. Continue to social distance and mask up.
"We’d hate to see a last-minute casualty especially where it impacts the whole group. You get on the plane and you’ll be in tight quarters for a while, so today is an important day. Everybody has worked hard to get to this point and we’re all looking forward to getting to Toronto.”
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Pastrnak has missed all but one practice during Return to Play camp while serving in quarantine after close exposure to somebody that tested positive for COVID-19.
Ritchie has missed each of the last three practices with the Bruins while “unfit to participate” after largely skating with Charlie Coyle and Sean Kuraly on a jumbo third line in the first week of camp practices. Cassidy said Ritchie’s status as a bigger-bodied player could exacerbate the difficulty of catching up if he begins to miss extended time.
“I think the bigger guys take a little longer to catch up. That just seems to be the way the body works to get everything going and the motor running,” said Cassidy. “Nick would definitely fall into that category with hopefully [Pastrnak and Kase] taking less time. They’re efficient skaters so that will come back quickly, but all of them will have issues with timing and execution while playing in tight spaces because they haven’t done it. That’s where they have to be careful, keeping your head up and making plays.”
Kase, meanwhile, has missed the entire Bruins Return to Play camp after skating one day on his own last week following practice with a smaller group of B’s players that included Pastrnak. His status is unknown after being “unfit to participate” for most of the last two weeks and now potentially unable to travel with the rest of the group to Toronto.
It’s been clear in the last few days that the Bruins have given long looks at right wing to Anders Bjork and Jack Studnicka during scrimmages and practices with the idea that we might not see Kase at the start of Return to Play with the Black and Gold. For a player that suited up for just six games after arriving in a trade deadline deal with the Anaheim Ducks, this isn’t exactly the kind of start anybody was looking for out of him.
Cassidy indicated that the Bruins will need to cut two players from Return to Play camp before heading to Toronto, and those cuts will be among the forward group. The B’s will be taking all 10 D-men from camp as well as the four goaltenders (Tuukka Rask, Jaroslav Halak, Dan Vladar and Kyle Keyser) that worked out regularly over the last two weeks.