There’s no surprise that the Vancouver Canucks are dealing with another COVID-19 fiasco right now.
In the past nine days alone, the team has placed a total of eight players onto the league’s COVID-19 protocol list, including four netminders.
The situation first started to unfold on January 15th, when back-up goalie Jaroslav Halak was sidelined after receiving his positive test results. With Halak no longer available, the Canucks were forced to dip into their Abbotsford goaltending pool, electing to bring up Spencer Martin to serve behind starter Thatcher Demko.
With so many key players out indefinitely, the organization was once again forced to explore their Abbotsford options, electing to call up forwards Justin Bailey and Sheldon Dries, as well as netminder Michael DiPietro, who served as Martin’s back-up during the team’s 2-1 shootout loss against Florida on Friday night.
The situation hit its peak bizarre level on Sunday morning when both Martin and DiPietro were rumoured to have tested positive as well. DiPietro was eventually cleared to play, but the team still ended up losing two netminders in total after it was confirmed that Martin and Arturs Silovs were required to join the protocol list.
With four of their five goaltending options unavailable, the organization had no choice but to bring in current UBC netminder Rylan Toth to serve as the emergency back-up goalie for DiPietro on Sunday night, while also icing the same depleted line combinations from 48 hours prior.
The big question remains – who can we expect to see in the lineup for this week?
The Canucks are slated to play five games between now and February 1st, wrapping up their three-game homestand against Edmonton on Tuesday before embarking on a four-game road trip with stops in Winnipeg, Calgary, Chicago and Nashville.
According to Satiar Shah of Sportsnet 650, the return timeline is all over the place for the current protocol players, with Horvat not expected to join the club until the weekend.
Head coach Bruce Boudreau was able to provide a bit more clarity during Sunday’s post-game media availability, specifically speaking on the situation between the pipes.
There’s no doubt that a tandem of Demko-Martin would be much more reassuring than what we saw on Sunday (even given how DiPietro performed behind his snake-bitten teammates), but you can’t help but feel for Halak in this situation.
According to insider Rick Dhaliwal, the 37-year-old felt completely fine after his five-day mandatory quarantine. However, since Halak tested positive south of the border, he wasn’t allowed to enter Canada for an additional 10 days as a result.
Halak hasn’t played since his team’s 2-1 shootout loss against Los Angeles on December 30th, bringing his overall record to 1-4-2 on the year.
Dhaliwal also spoke to interim General Manager Jim Rutherford on Monday morning about the status of Miller. The 28-year-old forward leads the team in points with 39, but hasn’t played since January 18th.
With so many question marks surrounding the roster, the team might be forced to play an important divisional game without their key players, which would be a grand test for the organization at this point in the season.
Puck drop is set for 7:00pm PST on Tuesday night.
What are your thoughts on the team’s current COVID situation? Let us know in the comments!