Just as the Nashville Predators were heating up, a COVID-19 outbreak cooled them down.
The NHL announced on Saturday that it had paused the Predators' schedule until at least through the league’s holiday break, which ends on Dec. 26.
The Predators were one of two teams to have their schedule paused over the weekend, along with the Boston Bruins. The Calgary Flames, Colorado Avalanche and Florida Panthers previously had their seasons shut down.
As a result of the pause, Nashville will not play games against the Carolina Hurricanes (Dec. 19), Winnipeg Jets (Dec. 21) and Florida Panthers (Dec. 23). The Predators next game will be at the Dallas Stars on Dec. 27.
The NHL has postponed 27 games to date due to COVID-19 outbreaks, and in response to the rise in positive cases, the league suspended cross-border travel between the U.S. and Canada until after the Christmas break. It also announced stricter COVID-19 protocols through Jan. 1 that includes daily testing and additional pre-game testing if a team experiences a COVID outbreak.
The NHL and NHL Players’ Association have also discussed the possibility of pausing the entire season, but no decision has been made. Currently, more than 70 players — roughly 10 percent of the entire league — are in COVID protocols.
The Predators have seven players — Ryan Johansen, Mikael Granlund, Philip Tomasino, Nick Cousins, Michael McCarron, Matt Luff, Ben Harpur — and four coaches — John Hynes, Todd Richards, Dan Hinote, Dan Lambert — currently in the COVID-19 protocol.
Nashville’s seven-game win streak is the longest in the NHL. The Predators (19-10-1, 39 points) have moved to within one point of the Central Division-leading Minnesota Wild (19-8-2, 40 points).
The Predators also assigned Rocco Grimaldi, Mathieu Olivier, Kole Sherwood and Cole Smith to the Milwaukee Admirals in the AHL on Saturday. The Admirals play the Rockford Ice Hogs on Tuesday.
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