After finally getting their first win on home ice the Isles were looking to ride the wave that's seen them go 2-1-3 in their last six games. Mathew Barzal lead the way in those six games with nine points. It's been some true "kid who won the Calder" vibes from Barzal lately. And now, he's out for around ten days.
If you've just sighed because the negative news never seems to end, you're not the only one.
New York Islanders Mathew Barzal enters COVID protocol
If Barzal misses the full ten days* it means he likely won't be back in the lineup until the trip to Buffalo after the three-day Christmas break. He'd miss a four-game homestand where the Isles take on the Bruins, Golden Knights, Canadiens, and the Washington Capitals.
*Keep in mind that if Barzal is asymptomatic he could test negative and exit the protocol quicker than 10 days. This could also be a false postiive. A confirmatory test could see him exit as soon as tomorrow.
We all thought the COVID protocol might be a thing of the past after Casey Cizikas exited his hold just the other. Cizikas was the last man of an eight-man group that entered the NHL's COVID protocol from the Isles in a 10 day period in the middle of November.
But today we got a reminder not to forget that this pandemic still isn't over.
Next man up
Now, the Isles will see how they do without their top player. They've already had a tough time scoring goals with Barzal in the lineup. Having him out of the lineup significantly reduces their offensive potential.
The rest of the lineup is going to have to step up to fill the void left by Barzal. That starts with guys who haven't been producing much. Anthony Beauvillier will step back into the lineup and will have to show he's learned something from his one-game exile to the press box. Kyle Palmieri will need to stop just getting good looks and actually bury one. And Josh Bailey will have to do more as well.
If they can't figure out their game this thing won't turn around.