The latest break in the Islanders’ schedule as they come out of the NHL’s elongated holiday break has been extended at least one more day.
The NHL announced on Tuesday that Wednesday night’s game against the Red Wings at UBS Arena has been postponed with both teams dealing with another COVID-19 outbreak.
For now, the Islanders are scheduled to host the Sabres, who have five players and coach Don Granato in COVID-19 protocol, on Thursday night.
The Islanders on Tuesday added top-six center Brock Nelson to their COVID-19 protocol list. He joined fellow forwards Anthony Beauvillier, Cal Clutterbuck, Zach Parise and Oliver Wahlstrom as unavailable after testing positive. Matt Martin and defenseman Robin Salo were expected to be activated off the COVID-19 protocol list in time for Wednesday’s now-postponed game.
The last-place Islanders (8-12-6) have not played since a 4-3 shootout loss to visiting Vegas on Dec. 19 and have now had six games postponed since Nov. 28. They practiced on Tuesday at Northwell Health Ice Center in East Meadow for a third straight day following the holiday break.
The Red Wings still have eight players, including former Islanders defenseman Nick Leddy, in COVID-19 protocol but coach Jeff Blashill had said he potentially expected all but Leddy and forward Lucas Raymond to be available.
Nelson is the 16th Islander to test positive since Nov. 16.
Newsday asked Trotz following Tuesday’s practice what he thought was the best option for the Islanders’ long-shot postseason hopes: Playing through the roster disruptions or having more games postponed. The Islanders have now had six games postponed since Nov. 28.
"I’ll leave that up to everybody upstairs, that’s really not for me," Trotz said. "The only thing we can control is our attitude and our work ethic. Other than that, it’s going to be what it is. Ideally, I’d like every team to have a full complement of players and there’s no disruption. That’s not reality. That’s fantasy hockey right now."
Captain Anders Lee, the Islanders’ representative for the NHL Players’ Association, said he believes the players want to play.
"I know the PA and the league, they’re doing everything they can to get these games in," said Lee, who missed four games from Nov. 20-26 while in COVID-19 protocol. "There are some obstacles there, of course. We’ve all seen it. But to play as much hockey as we can and not have to postpone as much as possible."
Notes & quotes: Forwards Michael Dal Colle and Austin Czarnik were re-assigned from the Islanders’ AHL affiliate in Bridgeport to the taxi squad, joining Cole Bardreau, Simon Holmstrom and defenseman Grant Hutton. The Islanders can assign up to six players to their taxi squad, which can practice and travel with the NHL squad. "We’ve struggled to have 20 players on the ice at any given time so the taxi squad has been part of the group," Trotz said when asked how he would use his taxi squad. "Depending on the numbers, I would probably have them (practice) separate, but we haven’t been in that position."