The NHL announced on Saturday that two Islanders games will be postponed due to COVID protocol. These two games were both road games, one against the New York Rangers and the other against the Philadelphia Flyers. The move comes as the Islanders have now eight players in COVID protocol, the latest positive test being Casey Cizikas.
How Did This Start?
While playing the last two games of a 13 game road trip, Josh Bailey caught COVID-19. From there, it has been a downward spiral of Islanders regulars either catching the virus or being placed in protocol. In the week and a half after Bailey first tested positive, seven more Islanders have been added to the list. These players are Anders Lee, Adam Pelech, Ross Johnston, Andy Greene, Zdeno Chara, Kieffer Bellows and most recently, Casey Cizikas. Anthony Beauvillier also missed a game due to protocols, but was determined to be a false positive. The mass loss of regular starters led to the Islanders having to start several bench players as well as making seven call ups from Bridgeport.
Is It Too Little Too Late?
Fans have been none too happy about playing these games without a vast majority of the starters. Apparently, the team has had those same concerns. Per David Pagnotta, the Islanders requested to postpone games starting with Wednesday’s game against the Rangers. The NHL notably didn’t have an issue with the situation at first given that the games against the Rangers and Penguins were played. It seems that Casey Cizikas testing positive was enough for the league to become genuinely concerned about this outbreak.
The question of if the postponements are too little too late is a tough one to answer. On one hand, several teams like the San Jose Sharks also had similar issues without a cancellation. The only situation that warranted postponement prior to this was the Ottawa Senators having 11 personnel in protocol. But on the other hand, the lack of postponement prior to today could’ve endangered visiting teams. Kieffer Bellows and Casey Cizikas both played in games the night before testing positive.
While it is highly unlikely any of them were around the opponents enough to transfer the virus, one could never be sure. The Islanders are 100% vaccinated and this strain is still spreading like wildfire. If any of the teams that visited UBS Arena get a positive test, the NHL is going to have a big issue on their hands. Letting the first two games at UBS Arena go on was acceptable. But once the situation continued to get worse leading up to Wednesday, the other two games at UBS Arena should’ve been postponed.
To this point, the NHL hasn’t given any indication of how they’ll evaluate if the Islanders are ok to play. The assumption is that it’ll depend on the number of new positives that emerge between now and their next scheduled game on Thursday. Any new positive tests or players placed in protocol could possibly mean further postponements. But if there is no increase in positive tests or players in protocol, the Islanders will probably play Thursday’s game.
This also means that the Islanders still could be rolling out a very depleted lineup when they return. This reigns especially true after Barry Trotz mentioned that several players were hit hard with symptoms from the virus. The team will be hoping that this break in play helps them get back some of those players they’ve been without. Otherwise, the Islanders are going to be put in a really bad position that may mean an early end to their playoff hopes.
Featured image courtesy of AMNY
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