The National Hockey League has been navigating through the COVID-19 pandemic since the 2021 regular season began on January 13, delaying the start of the Dallas Stars campaign 10 days and postponing games for the Florida Panthers, Carolina Hurricanes, and Vegas Golden Knights because of a number of positive cases, but things appear to be getting more troublesome for the league.
The Buffalo Sabres and New Jersey Devils have been shut down this week after a massive outbreak following a two-game series in Buffalo last weekend. Devils forward Travis Zajac and backup goalie Aaron Dell were on the NHL’s COVID Protocol list prior to the weekend, and Kyle Palmieri joined them after playing in New Jersey’s 4-3 shootout loss on Saturday.
Now that number has ballooned to 14 with Jesper Bratt, Connor Carrick, Jack Hughes, Andreas Johnsson, Janne Kuokkanen, Michael McLeod, Damon Severson, Ty Smith, Matt Tennyson, Sami Vatanen, and Pavel Zacha potentially positive, forcing the Devils to close their training facilities until further notice and postpone two games in Pittsburgh on Tuesday and Thursday and a Saturday night contest at the Prudential Center against the New York Rangers.
Buffalo was delayed by the snowstorm getting to the New York area on Monday and planned to travel on gameday for Tuesday night’s game against the Islanders, but Taylor Hall and Rasmus Ristolainen entering COVID Protocol has forced the Sabres to postpone both games on Long Island and a pair of contests next Saturday and Monday in Boston.
John Vogl of The Athletic reports that the Sabres requested more information from the NHL and the Devils during the weekend about their health situation and did not get any update from either party.
With the postponed games accumulating and a limited number of off days in a compacted 56-game schedule, the league may face the prospect of some teams not being able to make up all their games.