The nightmare continued for the New York Islanders as Zdeno Chara became the latest member of the team to enter COVID protocol and it was revealed that Brock Nelson will miss the next 2-4 weeks with a lower-body injury. That means the Islanders are down seven players because of COVID issues and two of their top players due to injury.
It all raises serious questions over whether or not Wednesday’s game against the New York Rangers should or could even be played. The Islanders had been scheduled to practice at 10:30 on Long Island, but delayed the start of it so that they could test the rest of the team and staff.
All of those results came back negative and the team did practice at Northwell Health Ice Center.
Josh Bailey, Anders Lee, Ross Johnston, Andy Greene, Adam Pelech and Kieffer Bellows are already in COVID protocol. Bailey will be able to return to Long Island this weekend, but there is no possibility of any of the six players coming out of protocol for Wednesday’s meeting with the Rangers.
General manager Lou Lamoriello did have a conversation with the NHL yesterday about the status of the Islanders’ upcoming games. As of now, no decision has been made about postponing any of them.
“To my knowledge, we’re preparing to play unless we hear otherwise,” Lamoriello said.
The news has forced the Islanders to make an additional pair of callups on Tuesday. Anatolii Golyshev and Thomas Hickey were both recalled from AHL Bridgeport, which has already lost a number of players because of the situation on Long Island.
Robin Salo, Andy Andreoff, Richard Panik, Grant Hutton and Paul LaDue have already been called up because of the COVID outbreak.
The continued impact of the outbreak has raised concerns, not only on whether the Islanders can field a competitive team, but the effect it will have on AHL Bridgeport to do so.
“Those are great questions and real questions,” Lamoriello responded to a reporter’s question. “We will continue to do what we have control of. You can’t deal with things that are out of your hand. Certainly, these are difficult times, but we will stay focused on the players we have, what our abilities are to replace players if necessary and just stay as positive as we possibly can. I don’t think there’s any way you could approach this or handle this any differently.”
The New York Islanders are currently 5-8-2 through their first 15 games of the season and played their first two games at UBS Arena over the weekend.