Somehow, some way, the Islanders are still not through with COVID-19.
Mat Barzal is in COVID protocol and will miss Tuesday’s game in Detroit. This comes just three days after Casey Cizikas rejoined the team, becoming the last player from the team’s initial outbreak to return.
The Islanders had eight players — Cizikas, Adam Pelech, Ross Johnston, Kieffer Bellows, Zdeno Chara, Josh Bailey, Anders Lee and Andy Greene — test positive in the last two weeks of November. The NHL postponed two of the team’s games at the peak of the outbreak, but the Islanders lost 11 games in a row from Nov. 7 through Dec. 11 — a span that includes all of those players being out.
Now, with the team finally having won two of three games headed into Tuesday, they’ve lost their top point-scorer. Barzal is also on a hot streak, having notched nine points during a six-game point streak.
Islanders coach Barry Trotz said the team’s game plan wouldn’t change without Barzal in the lineup.
“I thought Mat’s been really good on the power play for us,” Trotz said. “The power play was getting a little traction and rhythm. Good option, a guy like [Brock Nelson] and [Anthony Beauvillier], maybe possibly could go in there. They’re good options. Barzy’s done a real good job.”
Trotz said the number of positive tests the team has already suffered make him less worried about the virus spreading again.
“You should be good for at least 90 days,” Trotz said. “So at least half our team is pretty good, I think. I think we’ve been doing everything in terms of all the protocols that we need to do. It’s a virus. He picked it up and we move on.”
The NHL — along with other sports leagues — has seen a high number of positive tests this week. The Calgary Flames had to postpone games, with nine of their players in protocol as of Tuesday morning. Former Islanders defensemen Devon Toews also tested positive.
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