Isles' Ryan Strome fired up after benching in previous game
Ryan Strome said he was putting any unhappy feelings over being a healthy scratch on Saturday behind him for last night's game against the Blackhawks.
Michael Grabner said there's no hard feelings for him being the healthy scratch against Chicago. Such is life with the Islanders, who are nearing the end of their best season in three decades with decisions to make about who plays, who sits and how best to head into the postseason.
Jack Capuano sat out Strome, the Isles' third-leading scorer, for Saturday's 3-1 loss to the Canadiens. The 21-year-old forward was not pleased.
"It's a pretty big conference game, so it [ticks] you off," Strome said after the Isles' morning skate at the United Center. "Tonight's a good chance to prove a point, I guess."
Strome cycled back in on the right side with the Isles' Kid Line, with Anders Lee on the left and Brock Nelson in the middle. That line made big contributions during November, December and January and the Isles, with three goals in their three games before Tuesday night, could use a jolt of offense.
Which means Grabner sitting as a healthy scratch for the second time in four games may make perfect sense to some. Grabner has just one goal and one assist in his last 11 games, with just three shots on goal in the last six.
Given what Capuano has been looking for from his second and third-line wingers -- offense, sure, but also a willingness to go to the net -- the coach made the choice to use Tyler Kennedy and Nikolay Kulemin with Frans Nielsen rather than Grabner.
And Grabner is OK with that. After missing all but five games in the first half of the season following hernia surgery, Grabner's speed burst and consistency isn't where he wants it to be.
"Obviously it's been a tough year with the injuries. I just want the team to win and if this is the lineup to do that, it's fine," he said. "I want to win a Stanley Cup and if we do it with me sitting out, I can handle that. I want to play, but this is part of the game."
Capuano said he has no issues with Grabner's play of late, it's simply a choice right now.
"He's a gritty kid, he's certainly not hesitant," Capuano said of Grabner. "It's not like guys are playing bad. We've got guys like Colin [McDonald] and [Eric] Boulton who have done well in their roles when they played. We've got decisions to make, that's the bottom line."
Strome said the last time he was a healthy scratch was in 2009, when he was a 16-year-old rookie in the Ontario League. Whether he felt the 43 points he posted in 70 games was enough to buy him a pass from being scratched or whether he's still simmering about the benching were, to him, immaterial as last night's game approached.
"There's a lot of ways to look at it and it's not going to do me any good to be bitter about it," Strome said. "You want to play, to compete. There's no point dwelling on it."