David Pastrnak, Ondrej Kase miss another practice, deemed 'unfit to participate'

Scott McLaughlin
July 16, 2020 - 11:19 am
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It seemed like the Bruins were finally in the clear and ready to have all hands on deck. After missing the team's first two practices on Monday and Tuesday, right wings David Pastrnak and Ondrej Kase were able to get on the ice Wednesday -- Pastrnak in a small group setting and Kase by himself after that small group practice.

But then Thursday morning's full-team practice arrived, and Pastrnak and Kase were once again not on the ice with their teammates. Pastrnak's Zoom session with the media that was scheduled for Thursday was also canceled. Given that the Bruins only have two weeks' worth of practices before heading to Toronto, the fact that Pastrnak and Kase have now missed most of the first week has to be at least a little concerning.

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So, what gives?

Given the NHL's strict new protocols regarding how much information teams can share about testing, illnesses and anything of the like, detailed information is hard to come by.

Speaking after Thursday's practice, all Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy could say is that Pastrnak and Kase were deemed "unfit to participate" Thursday. He did say that the original plan was to have them on the ice Thursday, and acknowledged that "it is a concern" that they're still not able to practice in full.

"As per the league, it's unfit to participate right now," Cassidy said. "Hopefully that changes in the near future. Any time players miss a session where we expect them back at full speed, until he's out there, then it is a concern for us as a team. But we're just going to forge ahead. We've kind of plugged different guys in, so obviously missing two guys that play up in your lineup, and a guy like David who's your leading scorer, you want him in there, you want him getting back in condition, you want him returning to ice and being with his teammates."

In their absence, Anders Bjork skated with the top line alongside Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand, while Jack Studnicka saw some time with David Krejci and Jake DeBrusk on the second line. Karson Kuhlman also saw some top-six reps.

Cassidy said he isn't looking too far ahead in terms of starting to worry about Pastrnak and Kase missing game time (the Bruins' first round-robin game is on Aug. 2), but he did say that the team has to prepare as if they don't have them until they're actually able to get on the ice.

"We've been doing that with all the guys we were told weren't cleared yet, so it doesn't change that part of it," Cassidy said. "We just look at our lineup, who could do the reps there, who's the best fit. Nothing's set in stone. Anders has played up there. For us as coaches, you get used to that. Am I thinking ahead to being without those guys in the round-robin or playoffs? No. That would be speculating. But yeah, for today, and if I get word later today that the same thing's going to happen tomorrow, then we start thinking, 'OK, we've looked at a couple guys. Is there anything else?' And we'll meet as a staff to go through that.

"But there's only so many guys who would go up to, say, David's spot. Kase came late, so there's a lot of different guys who played in that spot with David (Krejci) on his right side, so that would be nothing new. But to miss both of them, sure it's an opportunity for someone else, but like I said, I'm not thinking too far ahead, other than, 'Hey, if it does turn into long-term, who's the best fit?' That's why we move different pieces around there."

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- In other practice news, goalie Tuukka Rask left practice early for the second time in three days. He got "stung with a shot," according to Cassidy, on Tuesday, but was able to return to that practice. He did not return after leaving Thursday's practice. Cassidy said it's possible he was still bothered by the same issue, but that he didn't have a definitive update. He did say that he hasn't heard anything about it being serious.

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Related: Don't count out Anders Bjork when it comes to Bruins wing equation