Dahlin Joins Eight Others in Covid Protocol
As Covid-19 continues to delay the Sabres season as Rasmus Dahlin was recently placed into Buffalo’s Covid-19 protocol. Dahlin was the ninth player from the Sabres to join this list. Other recent additions include Casey Mittelstadt, Dylan Cozens and Curtis Lazar. The teams initial plan was to resume practice on February 9, followed by their first game back on February 11. As players continue to be put into protocol, it would seem as if this delay will last longer than originally reported.
In addition to the Sabres players that are isolated, head coach Ralph Krueger continues his own battle with Covid-19. Although it is unclear when the Sabres will return to play, many hope that this pause will not have long term effects on the remainder of the season.
Potential Outcomes of Covid Related Delays
With the on ice return date still unknown, there is a chance of long term impact. As of right now, the NHL season is expected to end in May. Given that the Sabres return continues to be delayed, there may be changes to come from the league. The first option would be potential cancellation. If the Sabres are unable to reschedule their missed games in an appropriate timeframe, the next step would be cancellation. If the Sabres or any other team cannot play all 56 games safely, win percentage may become a factor. This would allow for teams will less games played to make the playoffs based on the win percentage in games they did play. This would be similar to the format used for the 2020 NHL playoff bubble.
The second option is extending the season beyond the initial end date. This however may be problematic for teams who have not had postponed games. If a handful of teams require additional time, those who have not missed any games will have to wait for the start of playoffs. Regardless of the decision, hockey fans hope to resume cheering on their favorite teams sooner rather than later.
Success Upon Returning
No matter the outcome of this break, the Sabres must find success upon returning. Sitting at 4-4-2 on the season, Buffalo has to be prepared to win when they resume play. In order to do so, their top players need to produce at a higher level. Players such as Jack Eichel, Taylor Hall, and Rasmus Dahlin have contributed at times but not nearly enough for the team to be successful.
Furthermore, the Sabres need to stay healthy not just in terms of Covid-19 but physical injury as well. A question mark still lies with Sam Reinhart and weather he will be ready to return after the delay. Given Reinhart is healthy, he will also need to play a key role going forward if the Sabres want to make the playoffs.
If the Sabres Covid-related delay is not extended, the team will take on the Washington Capitals at home on February 11 at 7 pm.
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