Islanders star Mathew Barzal in COVID protocol

Mathew Barza Islanders
Mathew Barzal
Dennis Schneidler-USA TODAY Sports

New York Islanders star center Mathew Barzal has been placed into NHL COVID protocol, head coach Barry Trotz announced on Tuesday before the team’s game against the Detroit Red Wings.

Barzal’s positive test could not have come at a worse time for the Islanders, who finally seemed as though they were emerging from the proverbial COVID forest.

Three weeks ago, the team was ravaged by the virus, sidelining as many as eight skaters at the same time. Their absences fueled an 11-game losing streak that featured seven consecutive losses to start life at their new home, UBS Arena. 

Just as the last COVID-positive skater, Casey Cizikas, came out of league protocols, now Barzal goes in.

The 24-year-old is undoubtedly the Islanders’ most valuable player — and he had been heating up as of late. Barzal was on a six-game point streak in which he recorded nine points (1 G, 8 A). He leads the Islanders with 17 points in 23 games this season.

It is unclear at this time whether or not Barzal is symptomatic. If he is, he will remain on the sidelines for at least 10 days. If he is asymptomatic, he can come out of protocol if he registers two negative COVID tests in consecutive days.