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The Boston Bruins and Nashville Predators on Saturday had games postponed through the NHL holiday break because of COVID-19 concerns.
Boston had three games postponed: at the Ottawa Senators on Sunday, against the Carolina Hurricanes on Tuesday, and against the Colorado Avalanche on Thursday. It was announced one day after the Bruins game at the Montreal Canadiens on Saturday was postponed.
“I think the NHL has tried to adapt and they’re going to continue to adapt as to what’s best for us to accomplish what we want. That’s to keep the players healthy, play a full season and a complete Stanley Cup Playoffs,” Boston general manager Don Sweeney said Saturday. “That’s what we just have to stay focused on. … It may take periods like we’re in right now where we have to step back and hopefully get back into full swing. But that’s up to the League in terms of how we navigate and how we can get the games in. Our intention is to play a full season. … I believe that will take some adaptability on everyone’s part because I think it will continue to change and evolve, depending on where we go as a society and as an individual sport.”
The Bruins have eight players in NHL COVID-19 protocol. Forwards Taylor Hall and Curtis Lazar entered Saturday, joining forwards Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand, Craig Smith, Anton Blidh and Trent Frederic, and goalie Jeremy Swayman.
“The vast majority of the players have had mild symptoms,” Sweeney said. “Some have had zero. I … think one player had a day where he felt a little more under the weather than previously. So maybe I would call it moderate. The two staff members are doing OK … for the most part everybody is doing relatively well and trending in the right direction.”
The Predators had three games postponed: at the Hurricanes on Sunday, against the Winnipeg Jets on Tuesday, and against the Florida Panthers on Thursday. The games have yet to be rescheduled.
Boston and Nashville each are scheduled to next play Dec. 27; the Bruins against the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Predators at the Dallas Stars.
“From a practice standpoint, we do not have access until the League gives us allowances to have people in,” Sweeney said. “Maybe it comes back in smaller groups. … We will take our direction from the League as they see fit. …
“I think you have to understand what the level playing field is for everybody across the League. … Some teams are playing tonight [because] they’re able to field their rosters. … It’s our job as managers and coaches to get the players available to us in a position where they can play and perform, and hopefully be successful.”
Nashville was without eight players because of COVID-19 protocol in a 3-2 overtime win against the Chicago Blackhawks on Friday: forwards Nick Cousins, Ryan Johansen, Mikael Granlund, Philip Tomasino, Michael McCarron and Matt Luff, and defensemen Ben Harpur and Mark Borowiecki. Nashville was also without coach John Hynes and five assistants.
On Saturday, the NHL also postponed three games this weekend due to COVID-19 concerns: the Toronto Maple Leafs at the Vancouver Canucks on Saturday, the Maple Leafs at the Seattle Kraken on Sunday, and the Arizona Coyotes at Vancouver on Sunday.
Toronto forwards Wayne Simmonds, Jason Spezza, John Tavares and Alexander Kerfoot, defensemen TJ Brodie and Travis Dermott, goalie Jack Campbell, and coach Sheldon Keefe are in protocol, as are Vancouver defensemen Tyler Myers, Luke Schenn, Tucker Poolman and Brad Hunt, and forward Juho Lammikko.
The Calgary Flames, Colorado Avalanche and Panthers on Friday had games postponed through the holiday break. Each team is scheduled to next play Dec. 27: the Flames at home against the Edmonton Oilers, the Avalanche at the Vegas Golden Knights, and the Panthers at Carolina.
The Flames added forward Mikael Backlund and a member of their support staff to COVID-19 protocol Friday, bringing their total to 19 players, three coaches and nine support staff.
Colorado has five players in NHL COVID-19 protocol: forwards Andre Burakovsky and J.T. Compher, defensemen Cale Makar and Devon Toews, and goalie Darcy Kuemper. Florida has seven players in protocol: forwards Ryan Lomberg, Sam Bennett, Carter Verhaeghe and Frank Vatrano, and defensemen Radko Gudas and Aaron Ekblad.
There have been 29 games postponed this season. The NHL had 55 games postponed last season; all were made up as part of a 56-game schedule.
“We certainly have tapped into the off-ice aspect of how this affects players mentally and physically,” Sweeney said. “The last few days when players have been tested two or three times a day, it is not easy. … It’s all just part of the process. Not easy for any player mentally, most importantly, but also physically to be prepared to play.”
NHL.com independent correspondent Patrick Donnelly contributed to this report
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