The New York Islanders return to the ice to face the Buffalo Sabres today. It's the first time the islanders play in the last ten days thanks to postponements before and after the holiday break.
Today, we got word that three players were coming out of the COVID protocol. That's one more than previously scheduled. We already knew that Robin Salo and Matt Martin were going to leave protocol today, joining them also leaving COVID protocol was Cal Clutterbuck.
CORRECTION: A report from pre-game practice had indicated that Oliver Wahlstrom and Zach Parise would also come out of COVID protocol. That report was incorrect and taken down.
New York Islanders vs Buffalo Sabres: Two teams rattled with COVID
That means Brock Nelson, Anthony Beauvillier, Oliver Wahlstrom, and Zach Parise remain on the protocol and won't be available for tonight's game against the Sabres. The Islanders aren't the only ones dealing with a few COVID absentees from the lineup.
The Sabres have a number of players out due to COVID: Jeff Skinner, Zemgus Girgensons, Mark Jankowski, Vinnie Hinostroza, and Dylan Cozens are out. As is head coach Don Granato. Which means both teams will lean on their taxi squad to fill some of those gaps in the lineup.
The Islanders have four players on their taxi squad currently: Simon Holmstrom, Austin Czarnik, Cole Bardreau, and Michael Dal Colle. Grant Hutton was on the squad but was returned to Bridgeport a few days ago.
With four forwards still out due to COVID and one out with injury (remember Kyle Palmieri and Ryan Pulock are still out with injury), the Isles will lean heavily on this extra crop of players for tonight's game:
New York Islanders projected lineup
That would make Sebastian Aho and Simon Holmstrom the three healthy scratches for tonight's game.
Ross Johnston spoke to the media today, which usually means he'll be playing. Now, maybe he's in instead of Matt Martin but I think Trotz is going to play Martin now that he's healthy (from COVID at least he still has a nagging injury it seems).
A win tonight would go a long way to start bridging the gap between themselves and the Detroit Red Winds who are eleven points ahead of them in the final Wild Card spot in the East.