Both of the Boston Bruins’ trade deadline acquisitions have made their debuts.
Nick Ritchie played in Tuesday’s loss to the Calgary Flames, while Ondrej Kase appeared in his first contest in Thursday’s win over the Dallas Stars. This was the first game since Feb. 7 for Kase, who took a hit to the head and also dealt with flu-like symptoms, the latter of which is what the Anaheim Ducks said was what kept him out of action prior to the trade.
Kase ultimately played a substantial enough 15:16, posting two shots on net with two hits and a giveaway. He also was on the ice for a Stars goal.
Here are some notes, observations and thoughts on his performance.
— Like Ritchie, it seems like we’re going to be waiting a bit before we discover where exactly Kase fits into the lineup.
The 24-year-old started on the second line with Ritchie and David Krejci, but ultimately took shifts with a few other guys as well. He played a little over a minute with Charlie Coyle and Jake DeBrusk, and over three minutes with Par Lindholm and Sean Kuraly.
Seeing as Kase only has gotten one legit practice under the proverbial belt, one has to think Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy is going to tinker with things over the coming days. But considering the Bruins’ upcoming schedule has them playing the New York Islanders, Florida Panthers and Tampa Bay Lightning (twice), the ideal situation for Boston would be to find some sort of consistency sooner rather than later.
— While he floated between lines at some points Thursday, it seems like Kase actually could be a decent fit on the second line with Krejci.
Similarly to Karson Kuhlman, who mostly has been a good fit with Krejci, Kase is a quick skater who hunts pucks well and is able to use his speed to his advantage in both ends.
Kuhlman’s fatal flaw, however, is his unwillingness to shoot at times, and at other times it’s his inability to finish. Krejci’s at his best when he has wingers who won’t just defer to him to shoot, and Kase fits that mold more than a guy like Kuhlman. Though his shooting percentage is down this season, Kase has been pulling the trigger at a career rate, and has a somewhat demonstrated ability to score in the NHL. Even if he doesn’t score goals at a high volume, it seems like he’s going to create more opportunities in the offensive end, especially if DeBrusk gets to the net.
— All of this said about Kase on the second line, the Ritchie-Krejci-Kase trio was a bit of a disaster.
While their Corsi for of five wasn’t bad, their Corsi against was a whopping 15, with three of said chances being considered high danger. That can’t happen. That line’s draws also were pretty evenly dispersed (four in the offensive zone, three in the neutral zone and five in the defensive zone), so it’s not like they weren’t getting hosed with a bunch of face-offs in their own zone.
— With Danton Heinen’s spot on the second power play now vacated, it appears Kase will be looked upon to fill that role.
Cassidy trotted out a second power play unit of Kase, Krejci, DeBrusk, Matt Grzelcyk and Charlie McAvoy. That group ultimately played 53 seconds in Boston’s lone opportunity on the man advantage.
And while not a requirement, it’ll be interesting to see if Cassidy at some point ends up deploying Kase on the penalty kill. He was used occasionally as a penalty killer with the Ducks, but didn’t get any run in a man down situation in his Bruins debut. Considering Boston has Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand and a collection of their fourth liners usually filling that role (against Dallas it was Par Lindholm and Sean Kuraly), it isn’t necessarily a requirement that he kills penalties.
— Cassidy shared his thoughts on Kase, and he summed it up pretty well.
“Ondrej looked like he hadn’t played in a while, was trying to find his groove there a little bit. A little bit rusty.”