The New Jersey Devils were originally set to play against the Tampa Bay Lightning at The Rock on Monday night. That is not happening. Earlier this afternoon, the NHL announced that this game will not happened. It will be postponed to another date. Per the Devils’ announcement on their official website, the Devils now have six postponed games yet to be re-scheduled.
The postponement does make sense. On Saturday, two more players entered the COVID protocol: Nathan Bastian and Jesper Bratt. This followed the additions of Dougie Hamilton (already out with a broken jaw) and Mason Geertsen to the protocol. They joined Yegor Sharangovich, Pavel Zacha, and Andreas Johnsson on the protocol.
As a result of the additions on Saturday, the Devils played the Columbus Blue Jackets with 11 forwards and 7 defensemen. Despite their best efforts, they lost 3-4 to the Blue Jackets. The additions to the protocol were not over yet. Today, two more players were added to the protocol: Damon Severson and Janne Kuokkanen. Not coincidentally a little while after that news came out, Monday’s game was postponed.
I think it is with these last two, the case was clearer to postpone Monday’s game. There are more than six players on the protocol list. Not even a full taxi squad could fill in all of the open spots in the lineup. Never mind the impact it would have on Utica or the AHL’s own protocols (I don’t know who is or is not on it out of the Comets). Until the likes of Sharangovich, Zacha, and Johnsson return - the first three added in this current wave - it does not make sense to have the Devils keep playing games at all. Never mind that the opponent was a high-quality squad in Tampa Bay. Provided they were asymptomatic and test negative after five days, the could be able to be cleared by Thursday’s game in Long Island. As of now, I expect that game to happen. It will be the team’s one and only game this week. New Jersey will then play again on Wednesday, January 19 as their games in Montreal and Toronto have been postponed earlier by the league. Of course, if more Devils (or Islanders) get added to the protocol, then Thursday’s game taking place will be in doubt.
I will add as another point that this will make the Devils’ February even busier. The Prudential Center has plenty of events in February. However, it can probably fit in the make-ups for this game and Montreal. Two games are doable, especially with the Carlos Vives concert for February 6 also being postponed. The other four road games will be trickier. That is the NHL’s issue, though.
What is your reaction to this postponement? Please leave it in the comments. Thank you for reading.