The NHL isn’t ready to come back just yet.
The league announced that its holiday pause would be extended another day, postponing the slate of games originally scheduled for Monday. That includes the Rangers, who were scheduled to host the Red Wings, the Islanders, who were slated to play at the Sabres, and the Devils, who had a game at the Blues postponed.
Going into the break, the Rangers had one player, Patrik Nemeth, in COVID protocol. The Islanders had three: Mathew Barzal, Matt Martin and Robin Salo. The Devils had five.
The league left the door open for extending the shutdown further in a statement announcing the pause. It cited the need for, “an adequate opportunity to analyze League-wide testing results and to assess Clubs’ readiness to play,” in justifying the additional day.
“Teams will return to practice on Dec. 26 and it is expected that the League will provide an update on its return to play plans by the end of the day on Sunday,” the statement read.
The league shut down for the holidays early due to COVID-19 outbreaks and concerns over crossing the Canadian border. With the omicron variant ripping through teams, the league had to put the Flames, Blue Jackets, Canadiens, Maple Leafs, Red Wings, Bruins and Predators on pause before pulling the plug on the season. The NHL also pulled its players from the Beijing Olympics, and will use the allotted two-week break to make up for games lost due to COVID-19.
The Rangers, Islanders and Devils had home games against Montreal postponed over the break. The Islanders also lost a scheduled contest on Thursday against the Capitals. The Rangers are up to three postponements that have yet to be rescheduled, the Islanders have four.
As of now, they’re both scheduled to return to action on Dec. 29, with the Islanders home against the Red Wings and the Rangers on the road against the Panthers.