By Jamie Gatlin
At the NHL trade deadline, the Boston Bruins acquired Nick Ritchie and Ondrej Kase to boost the offense. The two were expected to play key roles down the stretch, but their Bruins careers have been far from what the team expected. While Ritchie has settled into the bottom two lines, Kase struggled at first with his new team. That would change in Game One of the Eastern Conference playoffs, as Kase excelled and showed Bruins fans why he was such a coveted player at the deadline.
Before the trade, Kase had seven goals and 16 assists in 49 games for the Anaheim Ducks. His best season came in 2017-2018 when he had 20 goals and 18 assists. While his statistics don’t jump off the page, Kase has an impressive offensive skill set and has a hard-nosed style of play defensively.
Before the regular season was suspended, Kase had one assist in six games for the Bruins. He was brought in to improve the second line but was struggling to build chemistry with his new linemates. Even when practices resumed, Kase had to wait to rejoin his teammates due to being unfit to practice. This was far from ideal.
In the postseason, that all feels like a thing of the past as Kase has two assists in two playoff games this year. While the veteran winger has yet to find the back of the net, he has been aggressive and landed six shots on net. On Wednesday, he also blocked three shots and saw 22:05 minutes of ice time.
More importantly, Kase and David Krejci meshed perfectly as the Bruins’ second line was applying constant pressure. The two forwards where seemingly on the same page all game as the Bruins got their first win since their return to play.
Although the Bruins playoff run is far from over after Wednesday’s game, the team provided many positive signs after a disappointing Round-Robin showing. They seemingly had all their lines working as seven different players recorded at least one point. In the Round Robin tournament, they had only managed four goals in three games.
Kase was a big part as the Bruins’ second line was creating headaches for Carolina all afternoon. As the Bruins look to return to the Stanley Cup Finals, how Kase performs will be crucial. Game One was a preview of what to expect going forward as the chemistry between Krejci, Kase, and Jake DeBrusk should only improve.