Good news, Bruins fans.
For the first time since early March, the Bruins had their full complement of forwards back on the ice — as Ondrej Kase made his anticipated return Saturday after missing most of the first three weeks of Boston’s “Return to Play” activities.
The bad news?
Well, the Bruins might be without Tuukka Rask for Sunday’s round-robin opener against the Flyers.
Speaking after Saturday’s skate, Bruce Cassidy confirmed that Rask did not participate in Boston’s latest practice — potentially putting his availability in doubt for the B’s afternoon bout on Sunday.
Speaking following Thursday’s exhibition loss to the Blue Jackets, Cassidy stated that Rask was penciled in as the starting netminder for Sunday’s game.
“He wasn't feeling well, so unfit to participate today, which, as an afternoon game tomorrow at three o'clock, I'm sure the follow up question — Will he start? I'll have to talk to Tuukka later,” Cassidy said. “See where he's at. So if not, Jaro will be ready to go.”
Rask, like most of his teammates, was rusty in Boston’s loss to Columbus, relinquishing three goals on 20 total shots before exiting Thursday’s tune-up midway through the second period.
Granted, rolling out Jaroslav Halak is one hell of a backup option, with Boston’s No. 2 goalie stopping all 10 shots that came his way on Thursday.
Still, I don’t think I need to say all that much when it comes to harping on the importance of having your No. 1 goalie ready to roll once playoff hockey begins.
Yes, the upcoming round-robin games have much less at stake when compared to the eight play-in series, but Boston needs to get Rask settled into a groove before these contests really start to count during the following week.
As expected, Cassidy confirmed that both Kase and Nick Ritchie will not be cleared in time for Sunday’s game, with Kase in particular needing time to re-acclimate with his club after only skating in one of Boston’s 13 practices at Warrior Ice Arena during Phase 3.
While Kase missed the team’s charter flight to Toronto last Sunday, the right winger did not have to adhere to some of the mandated safety protocols put in place for players flying commercially up to Phase 4 secure zones — such as a mandatory four-day quarantine in his hotel room.
Kase could have avoid these restrictions by flying in a private plane up to Ontario, among other possible measures, but the 24-year-old forward wasn’t particularly chatty about his road up to Toronto, nor his absence from the club over the last couple of weeks.