Neely questions Pastrnak, Kase, who may not practice with Bruins until Toronto

Cam Neely told media members that his “best guess” is that David Pastrnak and Ondrej Kase won’t practice with the Bruins until the team reaches the Toronto hub city. Maybe most interestingly, Neely criticized some of the decisions Pastrnak and Kase made as the Bruins continue the NHL Return to Play process.

Limited opportunities to shake off rust

Now, it’s possible that Pastrnak and Kase might be able to get a Bruins practice in before the team plans on traveling to Toronto on (Sunday) July 26. It’s just that, like with many parts of this process, things are up in the air.

“It’s hard to say right now,” Neely said, via NBC Sports Boston. “My best guess would be [they will practice] in Toronto. There are hopes that it will be before we leave [Boston], but my best guess is Toronto.”

Pastrnak hasn’t gotten much time in with the Bruins, while Kase hasn’t practiced with them in training camp yet. To state the obvious: that’s far from ideal.

Brad Marchand recently said that “it doesn’t take long for chemistry to bounce back” for Marchand, Pastrnak, and Patrice Bergeron. And that’s probably true.

But what about Kase?

The speedy winger only managed to suit up for six Bruins games after being traded from the Ducks. During that time, Kase rarely got up to speed, as he failed to score a goal and only recorded a single assist. If anyone could have benefited from more time getting acclimated with still-new Bruins teammates, it was Kase.

Neely disappointed with Pastrnak and Kase; Quick look at Bruins schedule

You can chalk up some of these issues to “the nature of the beast.” We live in tumultuous times amid the COVID-19 pandemic, and it’s not always possible for best-laid plans to actually pan out.

That doesn’t mean Neely isn’t disappointed with Kase and Pastrnak, who may have had a smoother transition to Bruins team activities if they arrived in Boston earlier.

Kase and Pastrnak don’t rank as the Bruins only headaches during training camp. Key players like Charlie McAvoy also missed time, while Tuukka Rask did his best to shake off concerns about a fractured finger.

Yet in the cases of Kase and Pastrnak, the Bruins seem a little steamed that this is a headache that maybe could have been controlled. It will be interesting to see if any hard feelings hold over, or if this is something that the Bruins move on from.

With some drama brewing, it might be helpful to ponder the upcoming Return to Play schedule for the Bruins, leading into the 2020 Stanley Cup Qualifiers:

Rest of this week: Bruins squeeze in practices, wrap up training camp as best they can.

July 26: Bruins plan on arriving in Toronto hub city. Players need multiple negative COVID-19 tests to join the team on charter planes, so we’ll see if the Bruins and other teams experience disruptions there.

July 30: Bruins face Blue Jackets in an exhibition game (7 p.m. ET)

Aug. 2: Round Robin game versus Flyers (NBC, 3 p.m. ET)

Aug. 5: Round Robin game against Lightning (NBCSN, 4 p.m. ET)

Aug. 9: Final Round Robin game versus Capitals (time, network to be determined).

[Full 2020 Stanley Cup Qualifiers schedule; How to watch on NBCSN, NBC, and USA Network]

Kase and Pastrnak setbacks shouldn’t be too disruptive to Bruins overall

In the framework of this week, it’s rotten that Pastrnak and Kase might not practice with the Bruins.

Overall, though? Between that exhibition game and the three Round Robin contests, the 2020 Stanley Cup Qualifiers open up space for Pastrnak, Kase, and others to shake off the rust. It may not be ideal, but it’s probably nothing to get too bent out of shape about.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

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