Igor is back and COVID hits New York Rangers

On Saturday, the New York Rangers took Igor Shesterkin out of the Wounded Reserve meaning he could be back in action as soon as Wednesday against Montreal. They brought Keith Kinkade back to the Hartford Wolfpack.

He’s been skiing for over a week and has been shooting in practice on Friday.

Shesterkin was injured on December 3 and missed eight matches. If he doesn’t play on Wednesday, he’ll have to wait until Monday, December 27 in a game against Detroit.

Detroit kicks off a busy period with eight games in 15 days but only one set of games in a row. Based on his recent play, the Rangers should have no qualms about using Alexander Georgiev in a few of those games.

Nemeth in the COVID . protocol

Rangers are skating on thin ice all season when it comes to COVID. They only had two players Ryan Strom and Greg McGee enter the COVID protocol and played teams that hit the pandemic right after matches with the Blueshirts. A third guard entered COVID protocol on Saturday when the team announced that Patrick Nemeth was on the roster.

He comes at a good time for the team as he only plays once in the next nine days. Ranger fans may get to see a third defensive duo from Nils Lundqvist and Libor Hajek on Wednesday against the Montreal Canadiens. It’s a coupling that some have been looking forward to.

Nemeth should miss ten days in quarantine, but the light schedule means it’s just the Montreal and Detroit games.

COVID played a role in the main line-up decision when the Rangers had to give Adam Huska his first NHL game against the powerhouse Colorado Avalanche when their favorite backup, Keith Kinkade, was on the COVID list with plenty of Hartford Wolfpack roster. While Huska was playing decent, it wasn’t an avalanche match and things might have been different with Kincaid in goal.

However, the fact that they only lost nine men’s matches to COVID should be considered a miracle. Compare that to Calgary Flames who currently have 19 players off the field, and the Islanders who have lost 39 men’s games due to the pandemic.

Besides Nemeth, 19 other players were placed on the COVID protocols list Saturday, along with Maple Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe and Red Wings coach Jeff Blachelle.

Enhanced Protocols

To counter the latest explosion of COVID cases, the NHL and NHLPA have announced improved COVID protocols for the league. They include restrictions on indoor dining on the road, cancellation of any group holiday parties as well as increased testing including rest days as well as enhanced mask regulations. Players and all team members will not be allowed to interact with fans at least until the rules are re-evaluated on January 7.

Madison Square Garden has announced that all children aged 5-11 years will be required to provide proof of vaccination to enter.

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