The Montreal Canadiens became the first Canadian team to postpone games in the NHL this season, as the team has shut down all activities through Sunday.
The NHL announced that two Canadiens players are currently in the league’s COVID-19 protocol.
Canadiens face hectic schedule after postponements
On Monday, the Canadiens postponed a home game against the Edmonton Oilers after forwards Joel Armia and Jesperi Kotkaniemi entered the protocol. They became the first two players to do so for Montreal this season.
A day later, the league postponed all Canadiens’ games through Sunday, including two more games with Edmonton, as well as a Sunday matchup with the Ottawa Senators.
This is the first time the NHL has canceled or postponed games in the North Division. While there have been postponements due to COVID-19 throughout the season, only the three American divisions had dealt with these issues thus far. Meanwhile, the seven-team, all-Canadian North Division remained relatively coronavirus-free.
The Oilers continued with their hockey activities on Wednesday, and have not had any players enter the protocol.
Les matchs des Canadiens sont reportés jusqu'au 28 mars inclusivement.
Canadiens games have been postponed through March 28. pic.twitter.com/xTLSbR23ti
— Canadiens Montréal (@CanadiensMTL) March 23, 2021
The Canadiens entered this week in the thick of the playoff race, currently occupying the fourth position in the North Division with a 14-8-9 record. Montreal’s week off could hurt them down the stretch run.
The Canadiens have only played 31 games this season, fewer than any other team in their division. That gap will widen further this week, likely leading to a condensed schedule for Montreal the rest of the way. If the Canadiens resume play on March 30 against the Senators, they will have 40 days to play 25 games, presuming the NHL doesn’t lengthen its season.
Edmonton loses three games due to COVID
Montreal currently stands as a +2000 pick to win the Stanley Cup this season, according to FanDuel Sportsbook. FanDuel lists the Tampa Bay Lightning as the +600 pick to win the cup this year. The Canadiens are a -1100 choice to make the playoffs.
The Oilers (+2400 to win the Stanley Cup) also lost three games this week due to the cancellations.
“This is just a little adversity we have to get over,” Edmonton forward Tyler Ennis said, via NHL.com. “It seems like a lot of teams have faced this kind of challenge throughout the year. This is the first one we’ve had to deal with … a little rest never hurt anybody. Just got to stay focused, stay hungry, stay sharp, good practice today and move on.”
A total of 157 players have landed on the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol this season, though many of those players were not positive with the virus themselves. The Calgary Flames are the only team not to have a player in the protocol at any time. The league has postponed more than 40 games this season.