What a rough time for the NHL these past two weeks. Everything was going nice and well with minimal COVID-19 cases. Then, all of a sudden, the cases started rolling in. Every day, more and more players are going into the NHL’s COVID protocol. In the case of the Pittsburgh Penguins, they haven’t come out unscathed. Their breakout forward, Evan Rodrigues, entered COVID protocol after testing positive.
How Is Rodrigues?
Unfortunately, there have been minimal details regarding the status of Rodrigues. What is certain, however, is that the Penguins will certainly suffer without him in the lineup. Rodrigues is currently the Penguins’ second leading point scorer with 10 goals and 23 points. He’s also on pace to obliterate his old point record of 29 points.
Of course, his absence will only be noticed if the Penguins return to play. The NHL implemented a pause in play starting Dec. 21 until Christmas day Saturday. Then, as the COVID cases kept rising and rising, the pause was extended until at least Monday, with games resuming on Tuesday.
In this pause, Pittsburgh has missed three games. They were set to play against the New Jersey Devils Dec. 21, but it didn’t happen. Then, there was the matchup fans everywhere were excited to see. On Thursday, they were to play against the rival Philadelphia Flyers. Then Monday, the Penguins were set to appear in Boston to face off against the Bruins. All three of these games, postponed.
What About the League?
Things are looking pretty bad at the moment. Every day, more players are contracting the more contagious Omnicron variant of COVID. Even though the majority of the players are vaccinated, it doesn’t seem to matter. Some notable names in COVID protocol or have been within the past week include Aaron Ekblad of the Florida Panthers, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins of the Edmonton Oilers and Cale Makar of the Colorado Avalanche.
While nothing is for certain, an accurate assumption that could be reached is that there could be a longer pause, comparable to the 2019-2020 season. There’s already an incredible number of players in the protocol, so it’s only a matter of time before even more players contract COVID. It looks like there’s no stopping Omnicron for the time being, so it’s likely there’s going to be a longer pause.
If there’s a longer pause, there’s a good chance it could impact the Pittsburgh Penguins more negatively than other teams. They’ve been on an incredible roll lately as they were on an eight-game winning streak before the pause. When they return, it’ll be difficult for them to find that fire that drove them again. While this is all currently speculation, there’s, sadly, a decent chance of the league shutting down for a bit until the cases are mitigated and the safety of the players are ensured.
Go to our NHL page for more updates!