The New York Islanders and Buffalo Sabres will have to wait another day to play each other.
The NHL postponed Tuesday’s game between the two teams due to the league’s COVID protocol. The Islanders and Sabres had been scheduled to play at 6 p.m. at Nassau Coliseum on NBCSN.
“Due to weather conditions yesterday, the Sabres altered their travel schedule so as to fly today to New York,” a press release from the NHL read. “So that required COVID contact tracing and testing protocols can be completed appropriately, the decision has been made to re-schedule the game for a future date.”
The Islanders coaching staff was informed at 9 a.m. of the scheduling change and they quickly adjusted how the team’s day was going to look. Tuesday was scheduled to be the first of two games that the Islanders squared off against Buffalo on Long Island.
The second of the two-game set is set to take place on Thursday, but there was no indication one way or another if that game would take place as scheduled. Trotz did not have any information about the Islanders’ schedule going forward.
“I have not been told anything (about Thursday’s game),” Trotz said. “We’re going to proceed based on what we get from the NHL at some point today. Right now I don’t have that.”
Buffalo had altered their travel plans due to the massive snowstorm that struck the New York area on Monday and had practiced in their home rink instead of making their way to Long Island. They had planned on flying out on Tuesday, but they never left the city.
Buffalo played a pair of games over the weekend at home against the New Jersey Devils. It was revealed on Monday that New Jersey had been the latest NHL team to have a COVID outbreak and they had to postpone games through at least Saturday.
Buffalo was not thrilled with the league, according to The Athletic’s John Vogl. They had reportedly asked for information from both New Jersey and the NHL after Travis Zajac and Kyle Palmieri “went out” and never received any, he reported.
Tuesday is only the Islanders’ second direct brush with COVID-19 this season. They have managed to steer clear of any virus related issues, except for Josh Bailey’s brief appearance on the COVID protocol list.
“I think it just reemphasizes the importance of being smart about everything when you’re away from the rink,” Anders Lee said about the situation. “I know our guys are doing that and that I’d like to think that everyone else is too. That’s what makes this all tricky is it’s tough. You could be doing all the right things and still get it at times. I think everyone is doing the best they can, but it just emphasizes (the need to be cautious) a little bit more now that we are directly impacted.”
Tuesday would have been the Islanders’ first game back at home since they defeated New Jersey on Jan. 21, 4-1. The Isles have dropped five straight games since then, all of which came during a five-game road trip to New Jersey, Washington and Philadelphia.
Instead, the Islanders were able to get an unexpected day of practice and time to try and reset once again.
“I think what it does is we’ll get one day away from the game,” Trotz said. “I think the game can consume you because you’re going every second day. If things aren’t going really well they can sometimes linger.”