By: Jack Gotsell | Follow me on twitter @jackgotsell
Ondrej Kase returns to the Bruins lineup on Sunday when the Bruins face-off against Alexander Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals. Kase is a player that Bruce Cassidy is excited about returning, and with the Bruins recent struggles, it’s easy to see why.
Kase is the shoot-first speedy right wing that the Bruins acquired from the Anaheim Ducks on February 21st. Since being acquired, he has only played 6 games and registered just one point, which was an assist that came against the Lightning on March 7th. Kase has been unable to don the spoked B since March 10th, so a little bit of rust is expected when we see him Sunday.
It’s no secret that the ice is not in the greatest condition this postseason due to the number of games being played on the same surfaces in Toronto and Edmonton. With that being said, it’s harder to make those extra passes. Teams need to shoot the puck more instead of passing. That is something the Bruins have struggled with.
Kase had 144 shots this season between his time with Anaheim and Boston. Those stats tie him for 6th on the Bruins with Torey Krug and just one spot behind Charlie Coyle (145), who holds the 5th spot for most shots on the Bruins in the regular season. Kase and Krug are 32 shots ahead of Matt Grzelcyk, who is 8th on the team with 112 shots. Kase is not afraid to shoot the puck and is precisely the player the Bruins need right now to correct the broken offense that was outscored by Phillidelpia and Tampa 7-3.
If he can stay healthy, which has been a concern throughout his career, he can make a huge impact, especially considering the ice’s role in this year’s postseason. Kase had a spectacular season in 2017-2018 with career-high numbers in games played(66), goals(20), assists(18), and plus/minus (+18). The following year Kase was only able to appear in 30 games due to concussion issues at the beginning of the season and a torn labrum to end it.
Kase will look to come back in a new scene, a new club, and with a new playmaking center that has been known to elevate their peers in David Krejci. Kase will add an element of speed to the second line of DeBrusk-Krejci-Kase. This line could be your true power forward, playmaker, and scorer combo that could produce some secondary scoring for the black and gold these playoffs.
He did not light the lamp in his 6 games here in Boston before the break; however, Cassidy has a lot of confidence in the 24-year-old Czech. Cassidy recently said, “I anticipate he’ll get some shots. He’s been doing that in practice. He thinks shot first so we could use some of that right now.” Cassidy loves the speed of Kase and believes he will be the right-wing moving into the first round for the Bruins. General Manager Don Sweeney brought Kase in to fill that role, and Cassidy has confidence; he is the right man for the job. He provided offense and was one of the best defensive forwards for the Anaheim Ducks despite their position in the league. His Corsi for was much better than his Corsi against in every NHL season he has played.
With young forwards Anders Bjork, Karson Kuhlman, and Jack Studnicka chomping at the bit for the spot on the right side of David Krejci, Kase will have to knock off the rust quickly. He has made some mistakes, like not showing up early to training camp and was forced to quarantine missing the exhibition and two of the B’s three round-robin games. The pressure is on this young forward to make up for the lost time and make an impact in secondary scoring, which the Bruins desperately need.
The Bruins have a chance to claim the 3 seed in the East after winning the Presidents’ Trophy in the regular season with a win over Washington in any fashion this Sunday. Kase will have to make a case for himself to land the coveted spot next to Krejci for this Stanley Cup run.