Islands Notes: Top Six Defenders, Zdino Chara’s Skates

Defensemen Thomas Hickey, Paul LaDue and striker Richard Panik were all reassigned to the Islanders’ affiliate AHL in Bridgeport on Thursday as the parent team continues to recover from the COVID-19 outbreak.

That means rookie defenders Robin Salo and Grant Houghton remained on the roster, and Salo and Sebastian Aho remained among the team’s top six players in Thursday night’s game against the Sharks at UBS Arena.

Defensemen Adam Pelech and Andy Greene are back in lineup from the COVID-19 protocol, but Ryan Bullock (lower body) is still in injured reserve for a long time.

Forward Kieffer Bellows has also been cleared of the COVID-19 protocol.

“It’s just turns and play,” said coach Barry Trotz. “That’s all we can judge them for now. For example, our strong play should be a little bit better, so a guy like Aho or Salo will be in the power game and they’ll have to be a part of it until Polly comes back.”

Going into Thursday’s entry, the islanders have scored one Power-play goal in their last 10 matches.

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Defenseman Zdeno Chara and quarterback Casey Cizikas remain the last islander players in the COVID-19 protocol. Chara, who tested positive on November 22, was able to ski alone on Thursday. Syzykas tested positive on Saturday.

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Besides Bullock, Brock Nelson (injured/lower body) has remained outside, and Trotz said both are just “rehab at the moment, nothing more.” Bullock was expected to be out for four to six weeks from November 16, and Nelson was expected to be out for two to four weeks when he missed out on November 24.

“They’re both on the same schedule, I’ve heard,” Trotz said. “[Nelson] It’s not day by day and you won’t see it in a game or two. But he is making good progress. both of them. They just have to heal.”

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