Ryan Strome sat out again in Sunday night’s Game 6, his second straight absence as a healthy scratch. The 22-year-old forward was caught off guard by his benching for the pivotal Game 5 and now he’s resigned to his fate.
“It [stinks],” he said yesterday morning. “You want to be there for your teammates, you want to be able to make a contribution. The one thing I’ll always have for my career is being a good teammate. I just want the guys to win.”
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Strome had a disappointing regular season, posting only eight goals and 30 points after his breakout 50-point season in 2014-15. He had a goal and assist in Game 1 of this series but found himself the odd man out when coach Jack Capuano shuffled his lines and added Steve Bernier for Game 5.
“I certainly didn’t see it coming,” Strome said. “I thought I was playing pretty good hockey, definitely more of where I wanted to be compared to the regular season . . . It’s not really time to have an ego, especially in the media, to complain or anything like that.”
Capuano understands one of his rising young players is miffed about sitting out such big games. He sat Brock Nelson for Game 5 of last year’s first-round series with the Capitals, then benched Anders Lee for Games 6 and 7.
“We need guys that compete at a high level shift after shift,’’ Capuano said. “Ryan knows he’s got to compete harder.”
Bjugstad out for Panthers
As expected, center Nick Bjugstad wasn’t in the lineup (or even in Brooklyn) for Game 6 after taking a nasty headfirst fall into the boards early in the second overtime of Game 5.
Bjugstad had two goals and two assists in the first five games, centering Florida’s most productive line with Reilly Smith and Jussi Jokinen. Vincent Trocheck, who returned to the Panthers’ lineup in Game 5 after missing a month with a broken foot, slotted into Bjugstad’s spot.