Devils Get Three Players Back from COVID List

Going once again to Sam Kasan reporting for the “Inside the Devils Blog,” the Devils got three players back today from the COVID Protocol list: goaltender Mackenzie Blackwood and forwards Mason Geertsen and Janne Kuokkanen.

With that, Kasan points out, the Devils are beginning to get a full roster of healthy players for the first time in about five weeks.

Kasan noted that the three players released from COVID Protocol “rejoined the club for practice on Monday afternoon at Prudential Center.”

It should be mentioned that, as per Kasan, these players did not have “particularly bad symptoms to their illness” and were “mostly dealing with boredom.”

The thing that really stands out is that the players were out of commission for a little over a week and could only condition through body-weight exercises. Kasan then relayed how being “tossed back into practice can be jolting” for the players who were out.

Blackwood said “It felt more like a training camp day for me, getting my wind back, my legs back. It didn’t get me like it did last time. I feel like I’ll be good to go.”

Blackwood had battled COVID in January of last year as well.

Geertsen added “I was a little bit stiff. I made sure to do a little extra in warmup to make sure I was bit limber and ready to go. I was breathing hard in the drills, but it felt good.” He continued, “I feel like I’m good to go. I was a little rusty (Monday). (Tuesday) will be another tune up and if they call me on Wednesday, I’ll be ready to rock.”

Kasan said that the Devils had 17 players on the NHL roster having tested positive for COVID throughout the season.

Severson and Bratt Off of COVID List

Amanda Stein reported yesterday that defenseman Damon Severson and forward Jesper Bratt have come out of COVID protocol and returned to practice.

She said the Devils’ COVID list now only has Janne Kuokkanen, Mason Geertsen and Dougie Hamilton on it.

This is an obvious help to the Devils, who have their games this weekend in Montreal (January 15) and Toronto (January 17) postponed, because it will give Severson and Bratt five days of practice and to get back into game condition before New Jersey plays its next game on Wednesday, January 19 versus Arizona.

Bratt told Stein: “I feel like we’re pretty fortunate with the schedule. I mean, unfortunately, I missed two games, but it seemed that we could have missed four. So, in this schedule we have coming up, I’m excited that we have almost a week now of practice and it’s gonna be good to get back into these (practices).”

Severson added: “I’m excited to come back, and we’re getting some bodies healthy again, a couple more guys, hopefully, the next few days come back of the protocol, with a few days before our next game.”

Stein pointed out that Severson will be spending time at practice getting back into things while having to do without activity during his quarantine.

Severson elaborated that “[j]ust putting a little extra work on the ice. Just making sure you put a few extra drills in between, making sure the hands are ready to shoot, just kind of little things like that maybe. I haven’t been able to really do that just sitting at home. So, yeah, a couple of little extra things here and there to make sure that I’m sharp.”

Devils coach Lindy Ruff is “very encouraged” by the players beginning to get healthy according to Stein. He said to her: “[w]ell, (it’s) encouraging when your team has been hit hard at different times. We’ve taken a couple of hits. One in mid-December, and now, this one early in January. So, (let’s) get everybody up and running and then just looking for a strong push.”

In other news, Islanders forward Ross Johnston was suspended by the National Hockey League Department of Player Safety yesterday for his illegal check to the head of AJ Greer in Thursday’s Devils loss at New York.

Johnston got three games without pay. According to the NHL Public Relations press release put out yesterday on the matter, “Johnston will forfeit $15,000.00” that will go to the Players’ Emergency Assistance Fund.

Johnston did receive a minor penalty in the game for the infraction. The Devils have not had an update as to how Greer is doing and if there were any injuries sustained by him.