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Rangers' game Sunday against Flyers postponed because of COVID-19 protocols

The Rangers' Brendan Smith, right, is pulled out

The Rangers' Brendan Smith, right, is pulled out of a scrum during the first period of the team's NHL game against the Islanders on Saturday at Madison Square Garden. Credit: AP/Bruce Bennett

With three Philadelphia Flyers out of action because of COVID-19 protocols, the NHL announced Wednesday night that Sunday night’s game between the Flyers and Rangers at the Garden will be postponed.

The Flyers, whose game against Washington on Tuesday was postponed, will not open their practice facility until next Monday.

Justin Braun, Claude Giroux and Travis Sanheim are in COVID protocols for the Flyers.

The game that was supposed to be played Sunday had been scheduled for Feb. 16 but was moved last week as part of a slew of changes necessary because of the shutdowns of the Devils and Sabres. The Devils, whose game against the Rangers last week in Newark was postponed, are shut down at least until next Tuesday, when they are supposed to play the Rangers.

 

Smith not cleared to play

Defenseman Brendan Smith practiced full contact Tuesday but coach David Quinn said Smith, who missed the two previous games with an upper-body injury, still was not cleared to play. That meant there would be no lineup changes for the Rangers for Wednesday’s game against Boston.

But Smith, who was injured in a collision with Penguins forward Brandon Tanev on Feb. 1, is getting closer to a return. And, according to Quinn, "it should happen soon.’’

So the question was raised on Wednesday what will happen to the third defense pair of Anthony Bitetto and 23-year-old Libor Hajek once Smith and Jack Johnson (out since Jan. 28 with a groin strain) are ready to return.

"It’s obviously play-driven and we want to win hockey games,’’ Quinn said. "The top six defensemen that we feel give us a chance to win night in and night out will play.’’

Bitetto drew praise from Quinn for his fight with Boston forward Chris Wagner. The two fought at 9:17 of the third period and Quinn hinted that the fight may have had something to do with sparking the Rangers and helping them get the tying goal by Kevin Rooney a little more than two minutes later.

New York Sports