Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy confirmed that, as soon as he’s fully cleared to play, winger Ondrej Kase will go back in the lineup.
Kase’s impending return comes after he missed 53 games over nearly four months, as he recovered from an upper body injury suffered Jan. 16 against the Devils. The 25-year-old left the game after taking a high hit from Devils forward Miles Wood. Kase came to Boston with at least four documented concussions, but a head injury was never reported in this case.
Cassidy told reporters Sunday that Kase could return as soon as Monday against the New York Islanders, but it’ll be up to the Bruins’ medical staff to clear him. And if Kase is cleared, the next question is whether he’d also be able to play the second night of this week’s back-to-back against the Washington Capitals to close out the regular season.
“He’s on track to play [Monday],” Cassidy said when asked about Kase. “Again, get through [Sunday], let’s reevaluate in the morning. It’ll be his call and the medicals’ call. If they tell me he’s ready and wants to get in, then the sooner the better is the way I look at it, because he may need another game. The back-to-back, usually when you haven’t played that long, they’ll recommend, ‘Well, let’s not start back-to-back, but we don’t have a choice here. This is all we’ve got is Monday-Tuesday. So, that decision to sort of ease him in is no longer available, because we only have two games left.
“That’ll be a decision they make more than I do. We’d like to see him get in there, obviously, but they have to make that call. I’m willing to put him in as soon as he becomes available.”
The final question, then, is where Kase fits into a Bruins lineup that looks much different from mid-January. Craig Smith has scored five goals and 10 points in 15 games since the B’s acquired Taylor Hall from the Sabres and added him to a line with Smith and David Krejci. Jake DeBrusk played third-line right wing on Saturday against the New York Rangers, while Charlie Coyle missed the game with an upper-body injury. Karson Kuhlman played right wing on the fourth line.
We’ll see if Cassidy is willing to move Smith off the second line in favor of Kase, who has typically played with Krejci when healthy. If not, there will be an odd man out somewhere in the bottom-six – and another once Coyle returns. Cassidy said to expect “a very similar group” to Saturday’s game when the Bruins take the ice against the Islanders on Monday at TD Garden.
Matt Dolloff is a writer and podcaster for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Yell at him on Twitter @mattdolloff and follow him on Instagram @mattydsays. You can also email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.