Everything is subject to change — it always is in 2021 — but as morning broke on Thursday it looked like the New York Islanders’ latest COVID-related pause was about to end, and they’d be in action once again. The Buffalo Sabres, who played Wednesday night at home (a 4-3 regulation loss to the Devils), are the Isles’ first non-postponed opponent after the winter break.
The Islanders had no activity or media availability yesterday, so we’ll learn today if anyone new has joined Brock Nelson, Anthony Beauvillier, Oliver Wahlstrom, Cal Clutterbuck and Zach Parise on the COVID Protocol list. They will also be without Kyle Palmieri, who has yet to return to skating.
As some solace to some of the above, the NHL and NHLPA agreed to updated protocols that reduce the isolation time for positive cases from 10 to 5 days (if fully vaccinated and free of symptoms), reflecting CDC updates as the virus that has caused a global pandemic and 5 million-plus deaths continues to evolve, bob and weave while laughing at humanity, Earth’s short-term occupants.
Leave your First Islanders Goal picks for tonight here.
- With yesterday’s general quiet in mind, Steve had most of the recent stuff (Trotz on starting again, Barzal on returning, Kurtz on punting on the season) in Wednesday’s daily bits. [LHH]
- Previewing tonight’s game. Brent Thompson’s son Tage, acquired by the Sabres in the Ryan O’Reilly trade, is starting to blossom and now leads the team in goals. [Isles]
- With Talkin’ Isles featuring Brad Dalgarno in its latest episode, I wanted to highlight this talk Noel had with Dalgarno last year, as well as this post from 2011 about a famous fight and some absurdities in hockey culture (which elicited an appreciative private note from Dalgarno). [LHH archives]
- This day in Isles history: In 1971, Roy Boe purchased an expansion franchise from the NHL. A year later, they’d have a miserable expansion season. But nine years later, they would be starting a dynasty. [Isles]
- Mailbag: Can the Islanders make it back? (No.) [NHL]
- On the Fiserv partnership and reducing food wait times at UBS Arena. [LIBN]
- Also battling some COVID absences, the Bridgeport Isles lost again, to Hartford. [BP Isles]
Last night’s non-postponed scores included that Devils win, the Rangers losing in regulation to the Panthers, and the Capitals ending the Predators’ streak.
- Arguably no team was hit harder by the current outbreak than the Flames, who are feeling refreshed and ready to get back at it. [TSN]
- Temperatures are forecast to be below zero (F) for Saturday’s Winter Classic in Minnesota but that is not deterring the NHL. [NHL]
- They’ll send the high school “hockey hair” finalists out for that one, too [NHL]
- I remember fairly early in the pandemic, my ER doc sister — who’d seen several severe cases, and much later would see the trend of severe cases among unvaccinated — predicting it would eventually become endemic and we’d all get it at some point, it was just a question of how (and whether) society would minimize losses while getting to that point. Here’s a tracker of all the players currently in COVID Protocol. [Sportsnet]
- After multiple teams had COVID-quarantine forfeitures, they up and canceled the World Junior Championship in Alberta. I bet the Olympics will be fun! [NHL]
- And that tourney cancellation is a loss for everyone involved. [Sportsnet]
- Seven players to watch in 2022. [Sportsnet]