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New York Islanders vs. Buffalo Sabres: The impossible chase resumes. [Game #27]

The Islanders resume play and face the Sabres for the first time this season.

New York Islanders v Buffalo Sabres
Let’s watch some hockey.
Photo by Bill Wippert/NHLI via Getty Images

The Buffalo Sabres are in town, the New York Islanders are somewhat healthy, and this season shall start again.

This morning’s skate featured Cal Clutterbuck, Matt Martin and Robin Salo coming off COVID Protocol, where Oliver Wahlstrom, Zach Parise and Brock Nelson remain.

It’s not ideal, and the Islanders are waaaaaay behind where they want to be in the standings, but the rest of this season is not going to unfold in any sort of smooth or predictable way.

Here’s Barry Trotz’s gameday availability, in which he described a fully stocked Islanders lineup as “like an 18-wheeler.” “But I’m looking at it as, you don’t have to go on a 10-game run, you just have to be consistent, collect points. You don’t know what’s going to happen with other teams [and with] the schedule later on.”

Sabres: Visiting on a back-to-back

Handling their own COVID outages and missing five regulars, last night in their loss to the Devils the Sabres had two newcomers making NHL debuts from completely different circumstances: 29-year-old Ethan Prow (who also scored his first NHL goal) and 19-year-old German JJ Peterka.

Per Sportsnet and other sources, the Sabres COVID Protocol list includes Vinnie Hinostroza (Dec. 20), Zemgus Girgensons (Dec. 21), Dylan Cozens (Dec. 26), Mark Jankowski (Dec. 26), Don Granato (head coach, Dec. 26). Zemgus Girgensons and Jeff Skinner, who were asymptomatic and in protocol last week, were still out last night. With the team traveling for tonight’s game, any lineup updates will come closer to game time.