The Islanders will play their first rivalry game at the UBS Arena against the Rangers on Wednesday night, but their ongoing COVID-19 outbreak has rendered the team sterile, raising the question of whether the game should go ahead.
Defender Zdeno Chara has been the seventh Islander to test positive for the corona virus last week, general manager Lou Lamoriello announced on Tuesday. Chara joins Josh Bailey, Anders Lee, Ross Johnston, Adam Pelech, Andy Greene and Kieffer Bellows in the COVID-19 protocol.
It took a total of 11 positive tests (10 players and associate coach Jack Capuano) on the Senators to prompt the NHL to postpone three of Ottawa’s games, so there is speculation that the islanders could be shut down until they control the outbreak. to have control.
“We did have a conversation” [with the league on Monday]Lamoriello said during a Zoom call on Tuesday. “There is no decision as far as I know, we are preparing to play unless we hear otherwise.
“I don’t know what the threshold is [for postponing]. I believe that’s in the hands of the doctors in the National Hockey League as well as the players’ association and the infectious disease people.”
Rangers head coach Gerard Gallant had not heard anything about the status of the game on Tuesday afternoon. And when Ryan Strome, who contracted COVID-19 earlier this season and missed four games, was asked if there was any concern at this point about the Islanders’ playing, the Rangers center said flatly no.
Although the Islanders received some rare good news on Sunday, when Anthony Beauvillier was able to return to the lineup after registering a false positive, the feeling of encouragement 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 in the Metropolitan Division basement, recalled AHL Bridgeport defender Thomas Hickey and forward Anatolii Golyshev.
The Rangers may be dealing with a shadow of the Islanders team they faced 2-6 last season, with top defender Ryan Pulock also injured with a lower body injury, but it doesn’t change their approach to the game .
“I think they’re a team that they’re probably going to play in a pretty similar style regardless of who’s in the lineup,” said Strome, who spent the first four seasons of his NHL career with the Islanders after the organization took him out. ranked fifth overall. in 2011. “They have a great coaching staff and a good structure and good veterans. I recently watched their game, although they miss their boys, they play the same way. They play hard.
“I don’t think we’re going to do it differently. Our job is to go in there and play our game. I think it’s more about what we’re doing this season and getting consistency for us from game to game, rather than worrying about other teams.”
After visiting Seattle’s Climate Pledge Arena to take on the newest expansion team, the Kraken, the Rangers will compete in their second new building at the UBS Arena late last month.
“I’m excited,” Gallant said. “I watched the game on TV last night and it looks like a beautiful building and it should be nice to go in there. Every time you see a new building like that, I think the players are looking forward to it. “