Somehow, some way the Islanders still can’t seem to shake COVID-19.
Head coach Barry Trotz and defenseman Ryan Pulock entered protocol on Tuesday morning. Well over half of the roster has tested positive since the start of the season, as have three members of the coaching staff.
The silver lining for the Isles is that, with Pulock still on injured reserve, this won’t affect their roster for Thursday’s game against the Devils. That comes with the caveat that the game still may not happen — due to New Jersey’s own COVID-19 issues. The Devils had their game on Monday against the Lightning postponed following positive tests.
When, and if, the Isles get on the ice, associate coach Lane Lambert will coach the team assuming Trotz is still in protocol.
Lambert coached the Islanders in their last game, a Jan. 1 win over the Oilers, when Trotz was taking a leave of absence to be with his family following his mother’s death.
“He’s been through a lot lately,” captain Anders Lee said. “Now with the COVID. Wishing him the best the next few days. … We’ll make sure to take care of business while he’s away.”
The Islanders haven’t played since then because a scheduled road trip to Seattle and Western Canada was canceled due to attendance restrictions north of the border. Since Dec. 20, they have played two games.
“Ideally, we need to play,” Trotz said Monday. “We’ve practiced enough. The guys, they’re ready to go. They want to play.”