3:43 pm: More bad COVID news came for the Senators, as defenseman Jacob Bernard-Docker also entered protocol for them Saturday afternoon. With that, they have no extra players on the roster for tonight’s game at the moment.
10:43 am: The calendar has flipped to 2022, but the battle against Coronavirus won’t go away that easy. While the current surge may be producing far more positive results than symptomatic players, the league and its teams will continue to abide by the protocols in place, which will mean more players missing time. The first additions of the new year belong to Atlantic Division and Canadian rivals, the Ottawa Senators and Montreal Canadiens, both of whom are still scheduled to play on Saturday but will be short-handed.
The Senators have announced that forward Nick Paul and defenseman Dillon Heatherington have been placed in the NHL’s COVID Protocol. While Heatherington himself has been a COVID/injury replacement this year, skating in minimal minutes in nine games, Paul is a major loss for the club. The big forward is having a down year thus far compared to his past two campaigns, but still leaves a hole at center on the Sens’ second line. Ottawa has recalled Clark Bishop and Logan Shaw from the taxi squad to help fill the gap up front, while young Lassi Thomson has been promoted from AHL Belleville to add a body on the blue line.
In Montreal, the Canadiens have placed a pair of young starters in forward Jake Evans and defenseman Alexander Romanov into COVID Protocol. This makes 16 players and one coach unavailable for the Habs due to COVID, yet the team plans to proceed with their game this afternoon. Up against the salary cap, Montreal will have to stick with what they have for healthy players, which is expected to be a lineup of 11 forwards and five defensemen.