Ryan Strome's struggles to start the season have led him to the AHL.
The 22-year-old forward began the season as John Tavares' right wing but was a healthy scratch two weeks ago in St. Louis. Now, after going pointless for a fifth straight game Thursday night in Montreal, Strome was sent to Bridgeport on Friday.
"Those two are definitely fighting it right now, no question," Capuano said of Strome and Brock Nelson, two of his prized young forwards. "When you lack confidence, things seem to snowball on you."
Strome was the fifth overall pick in the 2011 draft, a Toronto native who tried from his first days in the Islanders' organization to pattern his game and offseason routine after Tavares'. But the smaller Strome did not make the jump to the NHL right away and was sent down to Bridgeport after training camp in 2013-14, his first full pro season.
Strome excelled in the AHL, leading that league in scoring before being called up. He had a strong 2014-15, finishing with 17 goals and 33 assists, and was effective in his first NHL postseason with two goals and two assists in the seven-game series loss to the Capitals.
But even with the early assignment to play with Tavares and Anders Lee, Strome has not taken the next step to elite status this season, struggling with too many aspects of his game.
He had a goal and four assists in his first seven games before being scratched. He returned, sat out again with an illness and then came back to play with Lee and Nelson on the Kid Line, which shined at times last season. But it did not produce.
According to War on Ice, a hockey analytics website, Strome has had only four "high-danger" scoring chances -- those that come within a few strides of the opposing net. That's the lowest number among all Islanders forwards, and scoring chances are Capuano's biggest measuring stick for his players.
"Those young guys, they care a lot and they're doing everything they can," Capuano said. "But they're fighting it now. Everybody can see it. Hopefully, things will turn around here."
Indications are the Islanders will stay with the 12 healthy forwards they have and veteran winger Steve Bernier will step into a regular role in the short term. The Islanders host the Bruins on Sunday before heading to California for a three-game road trip, when they will call up a defenseman to bring along for the West Coast.