Boston Bruins center Patrice Bergeron and New York Islanders center Brock...

Boston Bruins center Patrice Bergeron and New York Islanders center Brock Nelson (29) compete for the puck during a face-off in the first period of Game 5 of an NHL hockey second-round playoff series on June 7, 2021, in Boston. Credit: AP/Elise Amendola

It’s once again difficult to separate hockey from health when it comes to the Islanders and the NHL.

The Islanders have Mathew Barzal in COVID-19 protocol. The Bruins, whom the Islanders are scheduled to host on Thursday night at UBS Arena, added their top-line center, Patrice Bergeron, to the COVID-19 list on Wednesday after teammates Brad Marchand and Craig Smith joined the NHL’s expanding list of players in COVID-19 protocol on Tuesday.

"You know what? This is an ongoing dilemma for a lot teams, not only us," Islanders coach Barry Trotz said after Tuesday night’s 2-1 loss to the Red Wings at Little Caesars Arena. "We were hoping we could get our group together and get some traction and it continues. It is what it is. We just deal with it. It’s part of life right now. It’s part of our day-in, day-out life right now. Whatever happens, we’ll deal with it and move on. Feel sorry for us? Not a chance."

On Wednesday, the Red Wings placed Michael Rasmussen, who scored the third-period winner against the Islanders, and Robby Fabbri in COVID-19 protocol.

The last-place Islanders (7-12-5), who have not won consecutive games since Nov. 4-6 and are in a 2-10-3 stretch, did not practice on Wednesday.

Thursday would open a four-game homestand and a stretch of six of seven games at the Islanders’ new home through the end of December. The Islanders finally won their first game at UBS Arena in their eighth try, topping the Devils, 4-2, on Saturday night. Barzal extended his point streak to six games with two assists in the victory.

Barzal remains quarantined in Detroit, the ninth Islander to test positive since Nov. 16 but the only one currently unavailable to play. He did not play against the Red Wings.

All members of the Islanders’ organization are vaccinated.

Meanwhile, the Flames added 17 members of their organization to the league’s COVID-19 list on Wednesday. The Predators, who beat the Islanders, at UBS Arena last Thursday, announced six players and six additional members of the traveling party were placed on COVID-19 protocol.

"It’s weird times," said Islanders defenseman Noah Dobson, who missed eight games last season after testing positive for COVID-19. "We’ve been dealing with this for a couple of years now and we’ve kind of adapted to the new way of life. You see the amount of players around the league that have been testing positive. You just hope the best for them and hopefully nobody gets it too bad and everyone goes back and feels healthy again."

The Bruins beat the Flames, 4-2, in Calgary on Saturday but were flat in Tuesday night’s 4-1 loss to visiting Vegas, allowing three goals in the first period. Bergeron scored the Bruins’ lone goal in the third period.

But just as nobody will feel sorry for the Islanders, the Islanders won’t feel sorry for the Bruins.

"We have to keep pushing forward the entire game," Casey Cizikas said. "Give ourselves the best chance to win at the end of the game."

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