The Islanders were originally supposed to be in Boston on Tuesday and are still anticipating being there on Thursday night to play the Bruins.
For now, they were just as happy to be back on Long Island for a rare day off followed by a rare practice in this breakneck-paced schedule.
"It sounds like we will be playing [Thursday] unless we hear differently so we’re going to take that approach," Islanders coach Barry Trotz said after Monday night’s 2-1 overtime win in Philadelphia. "[Tuesday] we’ll be off, they’ll skate the next day and hopefully go to Boston."
The Bruins had two games postponed because of COVID-19 issues, Saturday in Buffalo and Tuesday night hosting the Islanders.
They still had five players — Jake DeBrusk, David Krejci, Sean Kuraly, David Pastrnak and Craig Smith — on the NHL’s protocol list on Tuesday. But Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy said just before the daily list was released that he expected the Bruins to be able to practice on Wednesday.
If so, they will almost certainly be able to host Thursday night’s scheduled game as the Islanders continue a four-game road trip.
Monday’s trip opener against the Flyers marked the Islanders’ 15th game in 26 days, a grueling stretch in this already-condensed, 56-game regular season.
A day of rest was certainly welcomed.
"Yeah, I think it’s huge," said Anthony Beauvillier, whose overtime winner against the Flyers gave him a modest two-game goal streak after he went eight games without a goal. "Whenever you get the opportunity to kind of rest and recover from anything. At this point, everyone is kind of banged up and a little tired, physically and mentally. We’re going to try and make the best out of it and get back stronger."
"It’s going to be good for sure," said rookie right wing Oliver Wahlstrom, who extended his point streak to four games (three goals, two assists) with the third-period equalizer against the Flyers. "Get a little bit of rest and we’ll get a practice in. Just take one day at a time and see who the next opponent is."
The Islanders also have games in Pittsburgh on Saturday and Monday to conclude the trip.
But the Islanders were able to break up what would have been nine straight days on the road.
Because of COVID protocols, teams are mostly confined to their hotel rooms when not playing or practicing on the road.
Trotz has repeatedly talked about the importance of giving his players time off for rest and recovery. He’s also said the mental wear and tear of a relentless schedule can be harder than the physical toll.
"We’re supposed to be going to Boston right now," Trotz said Monday night. "That’s a little bit of a break for us physically and mentally."
Notes & quotes: Starting April 1, fans can also enter Nassau Coliseum by showing proof of COVID vaccination (14 days after final shot) or proof of an antigen test taken within six hours of game time in addition to a negative PCR test taken with 72 hours of game time…Defenseman Noah Dobson remained on the NHL’s protocol list for the 10th straight day. He has missed five straight games and is unlikely to play at all on this road trip.Defenseman Noah Dobson remained on the NHL’s protocol list for the 10th straight day. He has missed five straight games and is unlikely to play at all on this road trip.
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