The Islanders resumed practicing on Sunday after the NHL’s extended holiday break, and president and general manager Lou Lamoriello expects the team to play its next scheduled game on Wednesday despite placing four more players in COVID-19 protocols.
"We have no indication that we will not be playing," Lamoriello said of hosting the Red Wings at UBS Arena.
Anthony Beauvillier, Cal Clutterbuck, Zach Parise and Oliver Wahlstrom were placed in COVID-19 protocols on Sunday. Simon Holmstrom, Cole Bardreau and Grant Hutton were reassigned to the Islanders’ newly created taxi squad from their AHL affiliate in Bridgeport.
Mathew Barzal was activated off the COVID-19 list after testing positive on Dec. 14 in Detroit and participated in Sunday afternoon’s practice at Northwell Health Ice Center in East Meadow. NHL players reported back to their team facilities after 2 p.m. on Sunday after four days off.
Lamoriello added that Matt Martin and Robin Salo — both of whom tested positive and missed the Islanders’ last game Dec. 19 — will be activated from COVID-19 protocols before Wednesday night’s game.
The Islanders were scheduled to play the Sabres in Buffalo on Monday night but the NHL opted to postpone all games that day in order to assess the data from leaguewide testing as players reported back.
The Islanders have had five games postponed since Nov. 28 and have had 15 players enter COVID-19 protocols since Nov. 16. They are scheduled to host the Sabres on Thursday and the Oilers on Saturday before departing for a four-game trip to Seattle, Vancouver, Edmonton and Calgary from Jan. 4-11.
At question is whether games between teams from the United States and Canada will continue to be played or whether there will be stricter limitations on travel across the border. The NHL postponed games between the two countries leading into the holiday break, meaning the Islanders did not host the Montreal Canadiens on Dec. 20.
Lamoriello praised the NHL and the NHL Players’ Association’s handling of this COVID-19 spike but noted, "They can’t control the government rules, whether they be in Canada or the different provinces.
"It’s my understanding that every game that is scheduled now will be played unless, for whatever reason, there is a change. So right now, our intention is to go to Canada and play."
Lamoriello also noted that the NHL will not be able to ease its testing requirements, as the NFL has done, because it has seven Canadian-based teams.
Notes & quotes: Lamoriello said defenseman Ryan Pulock (long-term injured reserve/lower body), who was injured on Nov. 15 and expected to miss four to six weeks, has resumed skating on his own. There is no timetable yet for him to begin practicing with the team . . . The Islanders can assign up to six players to their taxi squad, but Lamoriello said the organization still was waiting for COVID-19 test results from Bridgeport. "We have several players there in COVID protocol," he said. "[The outbreak] is fairly extensive."