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Need to Know: Bruins vs. Islanders

Kase to return to lineup as Boston closes out home schedule

by Eric Russo @erusso22 /

BOSTON - The Bruins can secure the third seed in the East Division with a win over the New York Islanders on Monday night at TD Garden. Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy will dress his full lineup with the exception of Charlie Coyle, who remains out with an upper-body injury.

A victory against the Isles would lock in a first-round playoff matchup against the Washington Capitals.

"It's gonna be a tough game against the Islanders," said Cassidy, whose club has won its last two against the Islanders after dropping the season's first five matchups. "They're a good hockey club. We had our hands full against them at the start of the year. Last time they came in here, we were better. That's the goal again. Keep building your game.

"We want to put the third period of the Rangers game behind us. I suspect our guys will play a more determined game in terms of keeping the puck out of our net. And our ultimate goal is to win the hockey game so we can solidify third place. That's the best we can do, so let's shoot for that."

Video: Cassidy talks final two regular season games

Here's everything else you need to know ahead of the 7 p.m. puck drop on NESN+, NBCSN, and 98.5 The Sports Hub: 

Kase Set for Return 

For the first time in nearly four months, Ondrej Kase will pull on the Spoked-B as he returns to the lineup on Monday night in the Bruins' regular-season home finale against the Islanders. Kase was injured on what appeared to be a fairly harmless collision with Devils forward Miles Wood in the team's second game of the regular season on Jan. 16.

But the 25-year-old knew immediately that something wasn't quite right after the high hit to his face, though he never expected that the concussion he suffered would keep him out for nearly the entire regular season.

"I remember everything from the hit," said Kase. "I just got a bad hit to the face. I started feeling very bad right away…needed time to see what was going on and it's almost four months. We didn't expect it to be this long but I'm so excited to be back."

Kase, who has suffered previous concussions, said that he believes the location of the hit was likely the reason it took him so long to fully recover.

"This one was so different," said Kase. "The hit wasn't that big. It wasn't a big hit. He hit me in a bad spot. It's why, I think, it took so long."

The Czech native estimated that he has been back skating for nearly two months with his condition improving progressively during that time. Kase, however, did admit that the process was hardly without its challenges.

"It was up and down a lot," he said. "It was mostly only up. But I felt like a month ago, I'm almost there. Two days later, it was like, 'Oh, no. I can't do it.' Lots of ups and downs. Every week was a little bit better."

Now, with two games to go until the Bruins begin their quest for the Stanley Cup, Kase is ready to return without hesitation.

"I am ready. I'm ready 100 percent," said Kase. "I skated almost one and half months, two months. I think my conditioning and everything will be pretty good. I hope I can help the team and I can't wait."

Kase will play alongside Jake DeBrusk and Curtis Lazar, a trio that has the potential to produce far more offense than is typical for a fourth line.

"Play with your head up and try not to overdo it," Cassidy said of his message to Kase, noting that there could be some chemistry there with DeBrusk after the two flanked David Krejci during last summer's postseason.

"Get back into the flow of playing hockey with bodies and people flying around you. You don't get that in practice the same as you do in game. That's the only message to him."

Video: Kase to return to lineup on Monday night

Miller for Masterton

For the second consecutive season, Kevan Miller has been named the Bruins' nominee for the Bill Masterton Trophy, which is awarded annually by the NHL to the player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication to hockey.

The 33-year-old returned this season after missing a span of 651 days following a fractured kneecap suffered in the penultimate game of the 2018-19 season. Miller suffered a setback during his rehab that spring as he attempted to return for the B's run to the Stanley Cup Final and was forced to sit out the entire 2019-20 campaign.

Miller has played 27 games this season, averaging 19:12 of ice time, the second-highest total of his career, to go along with a goal and three assists as a staple of Boston's third defense pair.

"Last year when that nomination came, I was obviously super grateful for that," said Miller. "I was in a different position than I am now, wasn't playing, not really too sure how things were gonna pan out. To get it now, I'm very grateful.

"I've had a lot of help, obviously, to get where I'm at now. To be playing again and competing and playing the sport that I love is awesome. It's been a long road and I'm happy to be where I'm at now."

This season has not been without its challenges as Miller was forced to miss roughly seven weeks in the middle of the year as he dealt with some lingering complications from the knee surgery. The blue liner returned in early April and has worked with the medical staff to come up with a plan that has limited his practice time and prevented him from suiting up for both games of a back-to-back.

"We came to agreement that what we're doing now is probably best for load management," said Miller. "It's still healing, to be honest with you, so it just takes some time. We had a little setback there, but I think it's been successful so far. I feel pretty good. Obviously, you want to get your touches.

"That's what sucks. I enjoy practicing. I enjoy pregame skate. You miss out on a little bit of that with the team, but other than that, just playing the games has been good. I think we'll try to maintain that as much as we can.

Miller, however, went on to say that he "fully intends" to play in both games of any back-to-backs in the postseason.

"If there's back-to-back or something like that, it's part of the gig and I'll be playing," said Miller, who has appeared in a playoff game since May 6, 2017, during Boston's second-round matchup with the Tampa Bay Lightning.

"The most fun is playoff hockey, that's what I've missed the most. That's when the bonds get really tight with your teammates and guys are laying it on the line every night. That's kind of why I play. I'm super excited for that."

Video: B's Kevan Miller talks after Masterton nomination

By The Numbers 

  • Charlie McAvoy is two assists short of his 100th NHL assist.
  • The Bruins host the Islanders tonight in the eighth and final game between these teams this season. Boston is 2-3-2 in seven games this season with a 1-0 loss on Jan. 18; a 4-2 setback on Feb. 13; a 7-2 loss on Feb. 25; a 2-1 shootout loss on March 9; a 4-3 OT loss on March 25; a 4-1 victory on April 15; and a 3-0 win on April 16.

Monday's Projected Lineup 


Brad Marchand - Patrice Bergeron - David Pastrnak

Taylor Hall - David Krejci - Craig Smith

Nick Ritchie - Sean Kuraly - Chris Wagner

Jake DeBrusk - Curtis Lazar - Ondrej Kase


Matt Grzelcyk - Charlie McAvoy

Mike Reilly - Brandon Carlo

Jeremy Lauzon - Kevan Miller


Tuukka Rask

Jeremy Swayman 

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