[UPDATE: Matthews will play, while McDavid will not Wednesday night in Toronto.]
Another day, another round of NHL COVID news and updates. Grim? Sure, but also necessary. On Tuesday, we saw more NHL players enter COVID protocol, although the biggest names remain in limbo: Connor McDavid and Auston Matthews.
Murky COVID situations for both Matthews and McDavid
Will Connor McDavid and/or Auston Matthews suit up for the Oilers and Maple Leafs, respectively, on Wednesday? At the moment, the answers are unclear.
On Monday, the Maple Leafs held Matthews out of practice after a positive COVID test. The latest news is promising: Matthews isn’t ruled out for Wednesday’s Maple Leafs – Oilers game after his second test came back negative.
Overall, pretty good news for Matthews, yet it’s probably best to label that a “wait-and-see” situation.
It sounds like the same applies to Connor McDavid and whether or not he’ll enter COVID protocol.
[Oilers suffered another tough loss on Monday]
Like Matthews, McDavid missed Tuesday’s practice. Oilers coach Dave Tippett confirmed that McDavid (and fellow forward Derek Ryan) both tested positive for COVID, although the team is awaiting a second test.
With occasional Tippett coach firing rumblings (sometimes paired with Mike Babcock speculation) and an Oilers fan base grumbling, Edmonton could use all the help it can get. We’ll see if McDavid (or Matthews) can suit up for what would normally be a treat of a game.
Wild COVID, injury, on-ice struggles open up Boldy, Rossi auditions
Generally, NHL COVID news mainly feels either overwhelmingly bad or refreshingly good, depending upon the situation. (Unfortunately, it’s usually bad news.)
With the Wild’s current COVID/call-up/etc. news, it’s more of a mixed bag.
Granted, the bad parts are the heaviest.
- At the moment, the Wild are on a five-game losing streak (0-4-1).
- Injuries keep stacking up. Joel Eriksson Ek and Jared Spurgeon are injured, and Cam Talbot suffered a lower-body issue during the 2022 Winter Classic. Nick Bjugstad may have suffered an injury in practice, as well.
- Jordan Greenway entered COVID protocol, joining Jonas Brodin.
So, yeah, not great. But it appears that all of those issues opened the door for intriguing Wild prospects Matt Boldy and Marco Rossi. In breaking down the Wild’s strengths and weaknesses, an impotent power play stands out. It sounds like Boldy and Rossi may get some early opportunities to see if they can be part of a solution.
Let's try that again
Evason says Rossi and Boldy will be on the power play “because our power play has sucked”
— Michael Russo (@RussoHockey) January 4, 2022
For plenty of NHL teams, COVID has forced young players into the limelight, likely earlier than planned. The Wild just happen to boast especially intriguing talents in that regard.
(If you’re especially interested in prospects, you’ve likely been daydreaming about how Boldy and Rossi might mesh with Kirill Kaprizov. Should be fun.)
NHL games postponed, rescheduled
On Tuesday, the NHL announced the following schedule changes:
- Columbus at NY Islanders on Jan. 18 – postponed, new date not yet known.
- Detroit at Philadelphia on Jan. 18 – postponed, new date unknown.
- Islanders at Flyers: previously scheduled for Nov. 30, now set for Jan. 18.
- The Islanders and Maple Leafs swapped home games. Now, the Islanders will visit the Maple Leafs on April 17, while the Islanders host Toronto on Jan. 22.
Other NHL COVID news and notes
- The COVID list for the Canadiens continues to grow. On Tuesday, Canadiens forward Rafaël Harvey-Pinard and Jesse Ylönen, defenseman David Savard, goalie Samuel Montembeault, and assistant coach Trevor Letowski entered COVID protocol. (Check out the full Canadiens COVID protocol list at NBC Sports Edge.)
- The Flyers announced that Claude Giroux and Ivan Provorov entered NHL COVID protocol, along with an unnamed staff member.
- More Sabres were added to NHL COVID protocol on Tuesday: Peyton Krebs, Alex Tuch, and Anders Bjork.
- Two Sharks were added: Logan Couture and Lane Pederson.
- Bruins forward Jake DeBrusk also entered protocol.
James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.