The Islanders are scheduled to play their first match of the game against the Rangers at UBS Arena on Wednesday night, but their ongoing COVID-19 outbreak has left the team barren and prompting questions about whether the competition should continue.
General Manager Lou Lamorello announced on Tuesday that Defenseman Jedeno Chara has become the seventh Islander who tested positive for coronavirus last week. The COVID-19 protocol includes Josh Bailey, Anders Lee, Ross Johnston, Adam Pelich, Andy Green and Kiefer Bellows.
The Senators took 11 total positive tests (10 players and co-coach Jack Capuano) on the Senators to motivate the NHL to postpone Ottawa’s three games, so there is speculation that the Islanders could be shut down until the outbreak comes under control.
“We have negotiated [with the league on Monday]”Lamoriello said in a zoom call on Tuesday.” To my knowledge there is no decision. We are preparing to play unless we hear otherwise.
“I don’t know what the limit is [for postponing]. I believe it is in the hands of doctors in the National Hockey League and in the players’ association and in people with infectious diseases.
Rangers head coach Gerard Gallant didn’t hear anything about the state of the game until Tuesday afternoon. And when Ryan Strom, who compressed COVID-19 earlier this season and missed four games, now asked if he had any concerns about playing for the Islanders, the Rangers center said there was no straight.
The Islanders received some rare good news on Sunday, when Anthony Beauvillier was able to return to the squad after registering a false positive test, the feeling of excitement did not last long. Brock Nelson suffered a lower-body injury in the second period of the Islanders’ 3-0 loss to the Maple Leafs and is expected to be out for two to four weeks, according to Lamoriello.
As a result, the Islanders, who have lost their last six games and are currently sitting in the basement of the Metropolitan Division, have been called in by defenseman Thomas Hickey and forward Anatoly Golishev from AHL Bridgeport.
The Rangers may be facing the Islanders’ squad, which went 2-6 against last season, with top defenseman Ryan Pulak on injured reserve with a lower-body injury, but that won’t change the game.
“I think they probably play the same style as anybody on the team,” said Strom, who finished fifth-overall after spending the first four seasons of his NHL career with the Islanders. In 2011. “They’ve got a good coaching staff and a good structure and good experienced guys. I saw their game the other day, even though they lost their boys, they play the same way. They play hard.
“I don’t think we approach it differently. It’s just our job to go out there and play our game. I think what we do this season and try to get consistency from game to game rather than worrying about other teams.
After a visit to the Climate Pledge Arena in Seattle, a new expansion team, Kraken, is set to compete in their second new building at the UBS Arena at the end of last month.
“I’m excited,” Gallant said. “I saw the game on TV the next day and it looks like a beautiful building and it should be fun to get there. Any time you see a new building like that, I think the players are looking forward to it.