Brock Nelson to COVID list as another Islanders game postponed

The Islanders will wait at least one more day before they return to the ice.

Their game against the Red Wings, scheduled for Wednesday night at UBS Arena, has been postponed due to COVID-19 protocols, the Islanders announced Tuesday afternoon. It’s the second postponement for the Islanders this week (their game Monday at Buffalo was not played) and fifth this season.

According to the Detroit Free Press, the Red Wings believe the game was called off due to the Islanders’ COVID issues, though they have players in the NHL’s protocol as well.

Brock Nelson, on Tuesday afternoon, became the fifth Islander to enter the protocol, joining Anthony Beauvillier, Cal Clutterbuck, Oliver Wahlstrom and Zach Parise. Kyle Palmieri is also out with a lower-body injury, meaning the Islanders would have been missing half of their forward group in the game against Detroit.

The Islanders are scheduled to host the Sabres on Thursday. Buffalo coach Don Granato and two players, Dylan Cozens and Mark Jankowski, were added to protocol upon returning to practice this week.

Brock Nelson was the latest Islander to go into COVID protocols.
NHLI via Getty Images

“I know the [players’ association] and the league, they’re doing everything they can to get these games in,” Anders Lee said on Tuesday prior to the postponement, referring to a policy that has at times adversely affected the Islanders.

“I think I’ll leave that to everybody upstairs and the league,” coach Barry Trotz said when asked if he’d rather play with half his forwards out or postpone the game. “Ideally, I’d like every team to have a full complement of players and we’re playing, there’s no disruption and all that. That’s not reality. That’s fantasy hockey right now.”

If the Islanders play on Thursday, they will be left with no choice but to make heavy use of their taxi squad. Michael Del Colle and Austin Czarnik were added Tuesday to that group, which also includes Cole Bardreau and Simon Holmstrom at the forward spots.

Before the break, when asked about COVID’s effect on the season, Trotz said it might be easier to play while short of forwards rather than defensemen. The Islanders had five of six defensemen out in a game earlier this season.

“A ‘D’ corps, I know they have their pairs but it’s very much all six of them together if that makes any sense,” Lee said. “They all work off of one another, there’s matchups, different every night. … Forwards [are] a little more plug-and-play in that sense and so I can see what Barry means.”

The Islanders (8-12-6) cannot afford to lose points, especially at home, giving some weight to the decision to play or postpone.

Much of what comes next will be dictated by a reality that has smacked the Islanders in the face for six straight weeks, one over which they have zero control.

“We’ve struggled to have 20 players on the ice at any given time,” Trotz said.