Sunday’s Islanders-Rangers game at Madison Square Garden, as well as Tuesday’s Islanders-Flyers game in Philadelphia, have been postponed due to an additional Islander entering COVID-19 protocols.
The NHL announced the postponements Saturday afternoon, saying “the decision was made by the League in consultation with the NHLPA’s and Club’s medical groups” because the Islanders have “up to eight players potentially unavailable to play due to COVID Protocol, as well as the possibility of additional cases due to spread.”
The league will revise the Islanders’ schedule and reschedule the games at a later date. As of now, they are scheduled to return to the ice on Thursday, hosting the Sharks at UBS Arena.
“With the two games being postponed, it’s my understanding that we will certainly be tested each and every one of the next three days and I’m sure there’ll be a conclusion after that as to whether we play the San Jose game or not,” team president Lou Lamoriello said via Zoom after the announcement of the postponements. “But that’s my assumption and I hate to assume.”
Per the league’s release, “the Islanders organization has followed, and will continue to follow, all recommended guidelines aimed at protecting the health and safety of its Players, staff and community at large as set by the NHL, local, state and national agencies.”
However, it was reportedly Casey Cizikas testing positive on Saturday that gave the Islanders an eighth case of COVID-19, forcing the postponements after the team had played incredibly short-handed against the Rangers at UBS Arena on Wednesday, and again against Pittsburgh on Friday.
Lamoriello’s media address also revealed that three staff members have also tested positive – but Josh Bailey, the first Islander to test positive, skated Saturday and would’ve been a game-time decision on Sunday.
Along with Bailey and Cizikas, the Islanders have captain Anders Lee, Kieffer Bellows, Zdeno Chara, Andy Greene, Ross Johnston, and Adam Pelech all in COVID protocol, and both Ryan Pulock and Brock Nelson on injured reserve.
However, Lamoriello denied that he had asked the league to postpone games, given the Isles are 5-10-2 and in the midst of an eight-game losing streak.
“We have to trust, and we do, their decisions, what goes into these decisions, what statistics allow them to make these conclusions,” Lamoriello said. “I am not privy to that so all we can do is respond to what those decisions are as we have today.”
As of now, the Islanders can’t even practice, and the team must test negative for three days in a row to be able to return. They are the second team to have games postponed due to a COVID outbreak this year, following the Ottawa Senators, who lost three games after 10 players plus a coach tested positive.
“I have to practice what I preach, what we have no control of you can’t be distracted by,” Lamoriello said when asked about his frustration level. “And all you can do is just stay focused on what you do have control of. And our coaching staff has done that, we’ve asked our players to do that and I think they’ve done a tremendous job over the set of circumstances.”
Follow Lou DiPietro on Twitter: @LouDiPietroWFAN