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Islanders & NHL News: We are paused. Thanks, COVID!

The Islanders-Capitals game is also postponed as the NHL and NHLPA agree to begin the holiday break early.

Boston Bruins v New York Islanders
Sigh, what’r you gonna do?
Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

“May you live in interesting times,” goes the English-via-Chinese (but not really, it’s apocryphal) saying/curse, and it certainly describes our planet right now.

“I know people are tired of this, I’m tired of it too,” said the outgoing NIH director. “But the virus is not tired of us.”

Like so many, I’m exhausted by the pandemic, its effect on my work (and I’ve been lucky to be employed throughout!), my sanity juggling all of this with young school-aged kids, and the frustration as it hits yet another phase requiring adjustments amid uncertainty.

But this is a hockey site (#stick2sports!). More specifically, an Islanders site. And while the Islanders took their biggest dose of COVID Chaos (to date) last month, their schedule this week is now disrupted by the escalating wave running around the league.

NHL Presses Pause

Monday night, in what must’ve been the 10th NHL press release on the matter in the preceding 24 hours, the NHL and NHLPA announced agreement “to postpone the five games that remain scheduled on Thursday, Dec. 23 [including Islanders vs. Capitals], in order to begin the collectively-bargained Holiday Break” after Tuesday’s games. It felt like spring 2020 all over again. It also felt very sensible and necessary.

This decision was accelerated by the fact that all the games on Wednesday had already been postponed — in addition to four games on Monday, including Isles vs. Canadiens. For the Isles, it means now two games this week are off, but I guess that means current COVID Protocol member Mathew Barzal (and Matt Martin and Robin Salo) will miss fewer games.

Practices and activities can resume on Sunday, so the Islanders’ next scheduled game, in Buffalo on Monday, is currently unaffected.

It also sounds like the parties will announce a withdrawal from the Olympics, an announcement/decision expected before the break.

Islanders News

Here’s Barry Trotz, before that decision was made, but talking generally about the team battling through their COVID interruptions and how some players returned with less stamina:

Some stories expanding on quotes from Trotz’s presser:

  • Despite the COVID wave, the Isles are trying to “roll with the punches.” [AM NY]
  • The Isles hope the break doesn’t interrupt what has felt like good momentum, by this season’s relative standards. [Newsday]
  • Their experience with so many COVID absences gives them a perspective on what other teams are now going through. [Post]
  • William Dufour’s point streak has now reached 16 games. [Isles Prospect Report]
  • We got a Montreal customs business inside the new arena. [Montreal Gazette]

Elsewhere

Last night’s only un-postponed NHL game had the Stars thumping the Wild.

  • Prior to the Holiday Break move, the NHL had shut down Canadiens-Blue Jackets. [NHL]
  • That came before Penguins-Devils, and Kraken-Knights were postponed. [NHL]
  • The Kings will be without Alex Edler for a while, now putting him on LTIR due to his broken ankle. [TSN]
  • The Canucks are starting to get players back from their COVID wave, so new coach Bruce Boudreau is looking at the league pause as a chance to instill more tactical changes. [Sportsnet]