This evening, the NHL made an announcement pushing back the date teams will return to scheduled play by one day. This decision was made to allow the league and teams the proper amount of time to complete COVID-19 tests for the players and measure each team’s ability to compete in hockey games. As it stands now the league will resume play on December 28th at the earliest, but perhaps the most important part of their statement is the wording “will not resume prior to Tuesday, December 28th.” This leaves the door open for further delays if deemed necessary, with the league stating they will provide an update by the end of Sunday, December 26th.
With this announcement, the Rangers game on Monday, December 27th against the Detroit Red Wings is now postponed. The team’s next game is scheduled for December 29th against the Florida Panthers. This has now turned into at least a twelve-day gap between games for the Blueshirts.
While it’s never easy for a team to jump back into action after an extended amount of time without gameplay, there are a few positives that stand out. First off, the entire league is in the same boat. Every team is currently on their holiday break and has had a game of theirs postponed recently. This leaves no competitive advantage for any team. Second, it allows the key players who were recently injured more time to recover, such as Artemiy Panarin and Igor Shesterkin. While it’s quite likely they would have suited up for the Red Wings game, it’s still possible they would not have been one hundred percent recovered. Last but not least, while we may be without NHL action for a little bit longer, there will be competitive hockey happening in the 2022 World Junior Championship that starts on December 26th. The Rangers have four—potentially five—players participating in this tournament. You can read our recent Rangers’ WJC Primer here.