The NHL and the NHL Players Association announced on Saturday relaxed COVID-19 protocols for the playoffs and the offseason for teams in which 85% of the 56-person maximum traveling party has been fully immunized, meaning two weeks after the second dose.
The playoff-bound Islanders meet that criteria, and coach Barry Trotz thinks the amended guidelines will benefit teams.
"It’s been a grind for a lot of players," he said before a 5-1 win over the Devils at Nassau Coliseum. "It will be an ease for players that, ‘Hey, this has been worth it.’ We’re seeing things change a little bit. I think it will give a boost of energy to all involved.
"If you’re vaccinated, you’re still going to have to do the right things. But I think if people are smart enough and diligent enough, if we just stick with it and we get vaccinated, you’re going to have pretty good success and life will get back to normal, which is going to be a blessing to us all."
The relaxed guidelines will mean players undergo fewer tests, can eat and drink on team flights, can socialize in small groups in hotels and can eat at restaurants with outdoor dining. Team meetings will be easier to conduct.
Brock Nelson played in his 300th straight game and can tie Bobby Nystrom for second place on the team’s all-time list if he plays in Monday’s season finale in Boston. "The mentality to have that consistency night in and night out is pretty good," Trotz said. "He’s grown. He’s very comfortable in his own skin." . . . The Islanders went 6-2-0 against the Devils . . . Cal Clutterbuck did not dress as Trotz rotates whom he rests . . . Linesman Tony Sericolo worked his 1,500th and final NHL game. He was honored with a video tribute and both teams remained on the ice after the game to shake his hand . . . Anders Lee, who suffered a season-ending knee injury against the Devils on March 11, attended the game . . . Josh Bailey’s 349th assist tied him with John Tavares for the fifth most in team history.
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