Ondrej Kase

The Wraparound: Rask out for Bruins opener vs. Flyers

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The Wraparound is your daily look at the 2020 NHL Return to Play. We’ll break down the NHL playoff games today with the all-important television and live streaming information included.

UPDATE: While Cassidy said Rask is feeling better, Jaroslav Halak will start Sunday. Dan Vladar will serve as the backup. “He’s not going to play today. Hopefully he gets back on the ice as early as tomorrow.”

The Bruins may be without Tuukka Rask for their opening round-robin game against the Flyers on Sunday (3 p.m. ET, NBC; livestream).

Head coach Bruce Cassidy said that the netminder felt ill and did not join the team for practice on Saturday.

“He wasn’t feeling well, so unfit to participate today,” said Cassidy. “As an afternoon question tomorrow, the natural next question is ‘will he start?’ I’ll have to talk to Tuukka later and see where he’s at. If [he cannot play] then Jaro [Halak] will be ready to go.”

A fractured finger during summer training camp forces Rask to missed a handful of practices. Fortunately for the Bruins, they have Halak to fall back on in case their No. 1 can’t go. The two netminders combined to win the 2019-20 Williams Jennings Trophy for fewest goals allowed since they both played at least 25 games.

Because the Bruins have three round-robin games before the First Round begins, Halak was expected to get at least one start. Both goaltenders split time during Thursday’s exhibition game against Columbus. Boston’s next game will be Wednesday against the Lightning (4 p.m. ET, NBCSN).

As far as definite absences go with the Bruins, Ondrej Kase finally arrived in the Toronto bubble and will not be ready. Same goes for Nick Ritchie, who has been “unfit to participate.”

[NBC 2020 STANLEY CUP PLAYOFF HUB]

NHL GAMES TODAY

Game 1: Coyotes vs. Predators, 2 p.m. ET (USA Network; livestream): The Predators are in the playoffs for the sixth straight season – the longest active streak in the West and behind only Pittsburgh in the entire league. Arizona making the 24-team tournament is also notable as the Coyotes snapped what was the second-longest active postseason drought in the NHL. The Coyotes sat four points out of the final wild card spot when the season paused.

Round-robin: Blues vs. Avalanche, 6:30 p.m. ET (NBCSN; livestream): The defending champs will benefit from the return of forward Vladimir Tarasenko. The 28-year-old underwent left shoulder surgery in late October and was on pace to return for the playoffs even before the season was paused. He played just 10 games this season. The Avalanche were a banged up team before the pause, missing Mikko Rantanen, Andrew Burakovsky, Philipp Grubauer, Matt Calvert and Nazem Kadri. But the long break has allowed the club to heal up, and now the only forward missing is Colin Wilson, who’s been out since October.

Game 1: Blue Jackets vs. Maple Leafs, (joined-in-progress) 9 p.m. ET (NBCSN; livestream): Toronto is the only Eastern Conference team in the Qualifying Round to switch coaches mid-season as they hope the move will produce similar results to the Blues last season, winning the Cup after Craig Berube took over in November. Last summer, the Blue Jackets lost four of their top players in free agency, with Artemi Panarin, Matt Duchene, Ryan Dzingel and Sergei Bobrovsky all leaving Columbus. Despite losing those players, the Blue Jackets had the exact same point total through 70 games (81 points) as last season.

Game 1: Wild vs. Canucks, 10:30 p.m. ET (NBCSN; livestream): Minnesota is back in the postseason after falling short last year following six straight playoff appearances from 2013-2018, while Vancouver is in the tournament for the first time since 2015. Neither of these teams have had much playoff success in recent years as the Wild have been bounced in the opening round in each of their last three postseason series. Likewise for the Canucks, who have lost three straight opening-round series since losing in the 2011 Stanley Cup Final to Boston.

MONDAY’S NHL PLAYOFF SCHEDULE

Game 2: Rangers vs. Hurricanes, 12 p.m. ET (NBCSN)
Game 2: Jets vs. Flames, 2:30 p.m. ET (NHL Network)
Round-robin: Capitals vs. Lightning, 4 p.m. ET (NBCSN)
Round-robin: Stars-Golden Knights, 6:30 p.m. ET (NHL Network)
Game 2: Canadiens vs. Penguins, 8 p.m. ET (NBCSN)
Game 2: Blackhawks vs. Oilers, 10:30 p.m. ET (NBCSN)

PHT’s 2020 Stanley Cup Qualifier previews
Eastern Conference top seed round-robin preview
Penguins vs. Canadiens
Rangers vs. Hurricanes
Islanders vs. Panthers
Maple Leafs vs. Blue Jackets

Western Conference top seed round-robin preview
Jets vs. Flames
Oilers vs. Blackhawks
Predators vs. Coyotes
Wild vs. Canucks

Predictions for 2020 Stanley Cup Qualifiers
Why your team won’t (and will) win the Stanley Cup this season
NHL Power Rankings: Stanley Cup-less veterans to root for
2020 NHL Stanley Cup Qualifiers schedule

NHL Bubble Wrap: Life during Return to Play; Updates on Crosby, others

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As the NHL training camp news shifts to playoff bubble news, the surroundings change, but some of the main considerations remain the same. For instance: we’re getting updates on the likes of Sidney Crosby, Dougie Hamilton, and David Pastrnak during this edition of the NHL Bubble Wrap.

Glimpses of life in the NHL Bubble: Food and games seem pretty solid

Confession: I was kind of crossing my fingers for the NHL Bubble food memes.

After all, NBA people had a field day with this one:

To my chagrin, and to more grins for NHL players, it seems like things are pretty top notch so far:

Mmmm, breakfast.

Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy believes that the hub experience will be tight-knit, and feel like a “permanent road trip.”

While that brings up images of “Planes, Trains, and Automobiles,” it sounds like there will mainly be video games and … Settlers of Catan?

You might be able to kill all the time between Monday and the start of exhibition games merely exploring the details of NHL Bubble life.

(Do you have “The Muffin Man” in your head now, too?)

[2020 Stanley Cup Qualifiers schedule / NHL on NBC TV schedule]

Injury updates for Crosby, Pastrnak, and more

Moving on from the breakfast (which may occasionally include grits) to the nitty-gritty:

  • Mostly good news for Sidney Crosby and the Penguins. Crosby was a “full participant” in Monday’s practice. That said, coach Mike Sullivan said the team will decide if Crosby will play in the Flyers exhibition on Tuesday. Does that make it (drumroll please?) a game-time decision? (That game airs at 4 p.m. ET on NBCSN on Tuesday.)
  • Let’s keep piling on the happy stuff like ingredients into an omelette. David Pastrnak ranked as a full participant in Bruins practice. He even got up to some rascal behavior. Things aren’t as clear for fellow Bruins winger Ondrej Kase, though.
  • The Hurricanes still consider Dougie Hamilton “unfit to play.” Not great for a defenseman who put up Norris-level numbers, although reports indicate the injury at least isn’t related to his broken fibula from earlier in 2019-20. Here’s some comic relief for Hurricanes fans:

More on 2020 Stanley Cup Qualifiers, NHL Return to Play series:

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.

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.

NHL Training Camp News Day 5: Pastrnak under quarantine; Boyle OK’d to play

While Tuukka Rask returned to practice on Thursday, the Bruins were again missing a pair of wingers. David Pastrnak and Ondrej Kase were again deemed “unfit to participate” with no details about their absences coming from the team.

The lack of information about any player’s status has predictably led to guessing games. Photos of the two Bruins skating at a local Boston rink surfaced this week, leading to head coach Bruce Cassidy being asked if they were being disciplined for something.

It turns out that, according to Pastrnak’s agent, he’s under quarantine after coming into contact with someone who was COVID-19 positive. J.P. Barry told The Athletic that his client has tested negative, but it’s unknown how long he’ll be isolated from the team. The Bruins are expected to fly to Toronto July 26.

Boyle OK’d to play

As of the Monday deadline, we saw six players and one assistant coach opt out of the Return to Play for various reasons. Some had family concerns and others cited personal health issues that will prevent them from playing.

One player who could have fallen into that group is Brian Boyle of the Panthers. Two years ago he beat chronic myeloid leukemia, but he said Friday doctors told him he is not at any risk when it comes to COVID-19.

“I looked into it, of course,” he said. “As far as my health and where I’m at, everything’s been great. Everything’s all zeroes with the testing, but I have to make sure, so I called up to Dana-Farber [Cancer Institute in Boston] and made sure with my hematologist there, and he was very positive and said, ‘However you’re feeling, the numbers show you’re no more at risk.'”

Kaapo Kakko, who is a Type 1 diabetic, was also a player some thought might have to opt out. But the 19-year-old Rangers rookie was cleared to play after speaking with doctors at home in Finland and with the team’s medical staff.

“I want to play, and I’m so young that my diabetes is OK right now,” Kakko said. “Just keep sugars down and it’s going to be OK.”

Caleb Jones reveals COVID-19 diagnosis

The Oilers defenseman told reporters he had a asymptomatic positive COVID-19 test two weeks ago. He’s fully healthy after staying in isolation.

Lightning power play adds Stamkos

Steven Stamkos did not skate in the full-team practice but did participate in power play work in a unit with Nikita Kucherov, Brayden Point, Alex Killorn, and Victor Hedman.

The Lightning captain has yet to practice with the rest of his teammates after he sustained an injury during Phase 2 workouts. At the start of training camp GM Julien BriseBois said he was confident Stamkos would be in the lineup when Tampa takes on the Capitals Aug 3.

Status known for Crawford

There’s been no sign of Corey Crawford as Blackhawks camp got under way. When will he hit the ice? That’s still an unknown, according to head coach Jeremy Colliton.

“We don’t know. For now, that’s how we’re describing it as ‘unfit to participate,'” Colliton told WGN Radio. “We’ll see. There’s still time.”

Crawford also did not skate during the Phase 2 workouts which began June 8. As of right now, the team’s goaltending depth chart features Collin Delia, Kevin Lankinen, Malcolm Subban, and Matt Tomkins. (What, no Scott Foster?)

“For now, there’s no change, but certainly haven’t ruled [Crawford] out going forward,” Colliton said after Friday’s skate.

The Blackhawks play the Oilers in their Stanley Cup Qualifier series with Game 1 coming on Aug 1. They will face the Blues in their only exhibition game on July 29.

A nice sight to see

Flower blooms in Vegas

While Crawford remains out, Marc-Andre Fleury appeared on the ice for the first time this week. After sitting out the first three days with what the team called “maintenance,” the goaltender joined his teammates Thursday.

The Golden Knights are one of those teams that have options in net between Fleury and Robin Lehner. Camp will give head coach Peter DeBoer a good idea of who he’ll go with to start the round-robin.

“I’m not going to be afraid to play either goalie,” he said. “I’m not sure what it’s going to look like. I’m going to keep an open mind with this because we have two great goalies.”

MORE: 2020 NHL Stanley Cup Qualifiers schedule

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

NHL Training Camp News Day 4: Pastrnak ‘unfit to participate,’ Stars’ do-over

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Thursday was a bit of a quiet day around NHL training camps. Many teams either used it to give players rest or had them do off-ice workouts. After four months off time will be needed to get players back up to speed. Given the short window of camp before heading to their respective hub cities, keep rosters healthy is of paramount concern. Let’s take a quick skate around camps with NHL Training Camp News Day 4:

Koivu still debating future

Wild captain Mikko Koivu is in the final year of his contract and isn’t sure what he’ll do next season. The 37-year-old played 55 games this season and saw his lowest ice time (15:34) since 2005-06, his rookie year.

“I feel really good,” he said. “As of right now, I’m just really trying to enjoy every minute of it on the ice and the preparation part. Once we get to Edmonton and start playing again, trying to take it as a new experience. I think we all realize right now that anything can happen, so you just want to have fun with it and at the same time prepare the right way and make sure that we do our part as good as we can.

“Once the games are done then I’ll look at the future and that’s going to be up to [how I feel] mentally, physically, and trying to do the right thing in my mind about the future. For the final decision, I don’t think it’s the time to make that call as of right now.”

When he spoke during the NHL pause, Koivu left the door open for a potential return home to Finland.

Stars with a do-over

Displeased with how training camp went in September, Stars interim head coach Rick Bowness sees this as a chance to get off on the right foot … or skate. Teams aren’t coming out of camp now playing lackluster October regular season games. Every game will be meaningful, something he’s trying to stress.

“You’re going right into it and you’re not going to have time to find your game,” Bowness said. “That’s why it’s important our practices are upbeat, our tempo is good, and we’re working on the things we know we have to work on. The players have to bring a good attitude every day and we can’t waste a day — there’s just not enough time.

The Stars play their only exhibition game on July 30 against the Predators before an Aug. 3 round-robin date with the Golden Knights.

‘Stache in he front, party in the back for Werenski

As training camp opened this week, Blue Jackets defenseman Zach Werenski returned sporting a fresh look. How do you like the mullet and mustache combo?

Zach Werenski
Blue Jackets TV

John Tortorella noticed and was sure to volley a few chirps Werenski’s way. How did Werenski explain the new look?

“What’s there to defend, I like it,” he said.

It has a real 1980s action movie villain look.

Pasta missing from Bruins practice

A day after making his debut at Bruins camp David Pastrnak was nowhere to be seen Thursday. Head coach Bruce Cassidy deemed him “unfit to participate” and given the NHL’s new injury disclosure policy we have no idea what that really means.

Ondrej Kase, who’s yet to skate with the regular group, was also missing.

RELATED: More NHL training camp news

“Am I thinking ahead to being without those guys in the round-robin or playoffs? No. That would be speculating,” said Cassidy. “Obviously missing two guys that play up in your lineup and a guy like David that’s your League-leading [goal] scorer, you want him in there, you want him getting back into condition, you want him returning to the ice, and being with his teammates. But he’s not.”

Another issue to deal with was Tuukka Rask leaving practice early. The netminder was stung by a shot on Tuesday, but Cassidy was unsure if it was related to today’s exit.

Gritty break

Yana Tarasenko gets in on Vlad’s workout

Vladimir Tarasenko is healthy and ready to play again for the Blues after suffering an October shoulder injury. He’s been out since Oct. 24 and used the pause to keep in shape in case the NHL did resume.

It was during the break Tarasenko showed off a unique workout via his Instagram.

“Yeah, it’s like a special workout,” he said. “It’s something fun you have to do through quarantine. It’s not my everyday routine, but sometimes you can do this.”

Tarasenko was also asked about upcoming life in the hub city of Edmonton. He said he’s going there to focus on hockey, not feel like he needs to be at a vacation resort.

“I don’t need much to live,” he said. “I just need a bed and food.”

Waiting for Sorokin

Ilya Sorokin won’t be able to play for the Islanders against the Panthers, but the newly-signed goaltender can skate with the team and join them when they head to Toronto. For now, the 24-year-old and the team must wait on immigration paperwork to be filed in order to allow him to travel over from Russia.

“Ilya will come as soon as he’s allowed,” Sorokin’s agent, Dan Milstein told AMNY.

The Islanders were able to sign Sorokin this week six years after drafting him. One day after inking a deal to join the team the rest of the 2019-20 season, he signed a one-year, $2 million extension for next season.

Skjei’s motivation

Hurricanes defenseman Brady Skjei can’t wait to face his old Rangers teammates in their Stanley Cup Qualifier series. Following the February trade to Carolina, he’s eager to send them back home.

“I’ve got a ton of motivation,” he said Thursday. “I really enjoyed my time in New York and I loved every part of it. But now I have a ton of motivation, a little chip on my shoulder, going into this playoff series.”

Rod Brind’Amour did say on Thursday that the coaching staff planned to talked with Skjei to get information about the way the Rangers like to play.

“We’ll definitely use him as a resource here as we start dialing up more talking about our opponent,” he said. “Starting next week we’ll definitely pick his brain because he was just there, he’s been in their system a long time. It’s in the works.”

MORE: 2020 NHL Stanley Cup Qualifiers schedule

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.