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New York Islanders

‘I don’t know what’s going to happen,’ Islanders Prepare COVID Restrictions

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New York Islanders practice on Long Island

Tuesday was a reminder of just how fragile things are when it comes to sports and COVID-19. Less than a week away from their first trip back to the postseason in 18 years, the Cleveland Browns had five members of the organization test positive for COVID-19, including their head coach and two players.

As the NHL prepares to return next week for the 2020-21 season, it’s a stark reminder of what the New York Islanders and the rest of the league will have to navigate this year. The NHL successfully pulled off a summer playoff tournament in bubble cities in Canada that didn’t have one positive COVID case.

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However, this time around the players won’t be in a protected space away from the general public. Teams will be traveling, albeit shorter distances, and the players will have more freedom to move around.

There will be COVID protocols in place for players and team staff, but there is no guarantee they will be totally effective or adhered to.

“I don’t know what’s going to happen. I don’t think anyone does,” Scott Mayfield said earlier this week. “All you can do is be your best self and try to make sure you stay safe to keep your teammates safe to keep everyone safe. That’s kind of what you have to do, but I don’t know what guys on other teams are doing and there’s nothing we can do about that.”

The NHL has done what it can to limit exposure to the virus during training camp. Off-ice training is limited to small groups and weight room workouts are limited to 10 people.

During the season, player movements will be extremely restricted to just the rink and their hotel room. Any practices on the road must take place at the home team’s arena or practice facility.

The Islanders seemed confident that the restrictions will be followed during the season. Jordan Eberle noted that with a family to care after, it makes it easier to stay home and not be as tempted to want to go out during the season.

With Season Quickly Approaching, Time Missed Will Be Tough to Make Up for Mathew Barzal

“That’s always going to be an aspect and these are new conditions,” Eberle said on Sunday. “It’s just new for everybody in the way that the season is going to go about. Number one, you look around at the way the NFL has gone and the NBA and baseball, number one it’s just going to be staying healthy. We have a ton amount of games in a short period of time, you get sick or you get other teammates sick, or whatever it may be you’re going to lose a week to two weeks.

“That’s a ton of games and in a short season, those are important games. I think we have the luxury on our team of being a pretty veteran group, a lot of guys are in the same situation as me and I just think that makes it easier.”

Still, players and coaches able to be out in the world during this season means there is an added need for caution during the course of the season.

Islanders coach Barry Trotz noted that the Toronto and Edmonton bubble made it easier to control a lot of the environment. There are now a lot of uncontrolled elements this time around.

“When we got into the bubble we were basically in the safest place on Earth almost,” Trotz said recently. “There wasn’t a lot of worries and a lot of thought in terms of the person next to you. … Now you’re putting us into the real world a little bit and you have to be extra diligent because I don’t know where the bus driver was. We’ll have all these protocols, but you can’t deviate a whole lot.”

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[…] During last year’s playoffs, the NHL saw zero players test positive for COVID-19. But in a season without a bubble, the New York Islanders will have to be cautious with a greater chance of exposure. (NYI Hockey Now) […]

Bridgeport Sound Tigers

Chris Lamoriello: ‘We’re Not Ruling Anything Out’ When it Comes to Josh Ho-Sang

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Josh Ho-Sang
Photo Courtesy: Greg Vasil/Bridgeport Sound Tigers

Could we see Josh Ho-Sang back in North America in the near future? Don’t rule it out.

Bridgeport Sound Tigers general manager and New York Islanders Islanders assistant general manager Chris Lamoriello indicated that a Ho-Sang return was on the table despite the team loaning him overseas. Ho-Sang is currently playing for Orebro HK in the Swedish Hockey League.

The Islanders announced they had loaned the talented forward to the Swedish hockey team earlier this month.

“Josh is extremely talented, very lucky early in his career to play a number of NHL games,” Lamoriello said during a Zoom call with local media. “At this point, we looked at a number of different options to put him in the best position. … We felt that with our schedule only being 24 games at the American League level, that he would get the chance to get in the lineup quicker and a greater volume of games in a shorter period of time.

“We thought this made a lot of sense. We spoke to him about it and he agreed, and this open-ended too. This isn’t something that will determine his future for this season.”

The Islanders had placed four players overseas with clubs while the NHL had worked to determine how or even if they would conduct a 2022-21 season. Ho-Sang’s situation played out differently, Lamoriello said, because those four players had citizenship in the countries that they played in.

The fact that placement for Josh Ho-Sang materialized later wasn’t out of the ordinary, Lamoriello said.

The Islanders shocked many when it was revealed that he would not be invited to training camp after he signed a 1-year, two-way contract extension this past offseason. Ho-Sang made it known to the organization that he would report to AHL Bridgeport if that’s where they wanted him.

Instead, the Islanders loaned Josh Ho-Sang to Orebro HK after he cleared waivers.

Despite the ups and downs, Lamoriello said that the communication with Ho-Sang had been “excellent.”

“That’s been ongoing, that’s been consistent,” Lamoriello said. “I feel very good about the direction in this type of transaction. Not only with us as an organization, but him as a player. I think it’s been extremely important, as you said, communication that has been had.”

And when asked to clarify about the potential for Ho-Sang to return, Lamoriello again indicated that it could be in the cards.

“We’re not ruling anything out,” Lamoriello said. “That’s why I mentioned it was open-ended. We’re just going to go game to game.”

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New York Islanders

Anthony Beauvillier Injury Could Lead to More Lineup Tinkering by Islanders

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Anthony Beauvillier

The situation with Anthony Beauvillier is fluid.

The Islanders forward was injured in Sunday’s 2-0 loss to the New Jersey Devils and is currently day-to-day with a lower-body injury. That’s about as detailed as head coach Barry Trotz was willing to get with the media on Monday afternoon.

The Isles are in Washington preparing for their first meeting of the year with the Capitals at Capital One Arena. It will be the first of two games that they’ll see the Caps this week and their first chance to rebound from their second shutout loss of the year.

That task will be made harder, however, when you factor in that Beauvillier may not be in the lineup on Tuesday. The Islanders have been inconsistent offensively, scoring four goals twice this young season and then being shutout in both losses they’ve suffered.

Ilya Sorokin Was Not the Problem in the Islanders Loss to New Jersey | NYHN+

Now they’ll have to piece together a lineup that can help curb some of the team’s offensive struggles.

“Obviously we might have to do some gymnastics in terms of our roster,” head coach Barry Trotz said. “There’s a lot of parts of our game we do really well. … Teams are locking it down defensively. Goaltenders seem to be sharp. Yeah, we’re looking for an odd goal or two. We’re OK if we can win 1-0. Just don’t like losing 1-0.”

Anthony Beauvillier is the first injury situation that the Islanders have really had to deal with early on this season. The team had a COVID scare last week when Josh Bailey briefly appeared on the COVID protocol list, but he did not miss any games.

Trotz had already tinkered with the Islanders lineup on Sunday, playing Michael Dal Colle in place of the more offensive-minded Kieffer Bellows. Depending on Beauvillier’s status there could be more changes to the lineup, which highlights the importance for everyone to be ready.

“We have success as a group when everyone contributes,” Trotz said. “That’s our top-six. That’s our bottom-six. So when guys come into the lineup, they have to contribute. They just can’t put on the jersey and be part of the team. They’ve got to find ways to contribute. Some guys have to contribute offensively because that’s more of their skill set.

“Some guys have to do it with the physical play or the checking prowess. … Whatever you bring to the table you better bring it.”

Sunday’s appearance was Dal Colle’s first this season for the Islanders. The more seasoned forward had established himself as somewhat of a regular in the lineup, appearing 53 games last season.

Dal Colles said he felt he learned a lot from his year with the Islanders last season, not only during the regular season, but in the playoff bubble as well.

The 24-year-old was happy with the way he and his linemates played against New Jersey, albeit, he admitted they could have gotten off to a faster start. Dal Colle is also very aware of hight tight the competition is for roster spots on a day to day basis.

“Everyone knows every day you’re battling for spots,” Dal Colle said. “Everyone wants to be in the lineup. We have a tone of bodies all with NHL experience. I think we know every day we come to the rink we’re going to need to work hard and push each other. I think (Trotz) is going to put the best lineup he thinks can win. We know that and it starts in practice.”

The Islanders have a pair of more offensively minded forward in youngsters Bellows and Oliver Wahlstrom. The aforementioned Wahlstrom has yet to play this season, but he could be an option with the Islanders’ scoring falling on the top-six of the lineup.

The injury to Anthony Beauvillier could make it harder to adjust that issue.

“I think what you’re finding most of our games one or the other of our top two lines are carrying the load and we’re not getting that complete contribution through the lineup right now,” Trotz said. “When we’re most successful we’re getting, one night it’s the fourth line. The next night it’s the third, but three of the four lines are contributing. Lately, we’ve just had one of the four lines that have had an effect on the game.”

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New York Islanders

Ilya Sorokin Was Not the Problem in the Islanders Loss to New Jersey | NYHN+

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Ilya Sorokin makes a save on the New Jersey Devils

When the final buzzer sounded on Sunday and the New York Islanders second loss of the season was a done deal, there was a lot to not like about their game against New Jersey. One item that should not be too high on that list was the play of Ilya Sorokin.

The rookie netminder started in just his second career NHL game on Sunday in the Islanders 2-0 loss to the New Jersey Devils. While the effort wasn’t perfect, he did what you’d expect out of any goaltender on any given night. He gave them a chance to win.

Ilya Sorokin finished the night with 22 saves and a .917 save percentage, which was not a bad effort in only his second game in North America. It was by far a big improvement over his first start the weekend prior.

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