Ryan Pulock won’t be back for Game 3 on Tuesday night, but Josh Bailey will be, which means Ryan Strome is a healthy scratch again.
He was a little frustrated with Jack Capuano’s decision.
“I honestly don’t really have much to say,” Strome said after he came off the Barclays Center ice following the team’s optional morning skate. Strome stayed on with the other scratches to do extra conditioning work, a sure sign of being out of the lineup.
“I try to be a good a team guy and I don’t want to draw any negative attention to myself,” Strome said. “It’s a big opportunity for us here tonight and I’m sure the guys that are playing will do the job.”
Strome sat out Games 5 and 6 of the opening round after posting a goal and assist in the first four games against the Panthers. Bailey was injured in the clinching Game 6, so Strome went in for the first two games against the Lightning and assisted on Shane Prince’s two goals in the Game 1 win.
But now with Bailey back, Capuano chose to sit the 22-year-old Strome again. It’s already been a trying season for Strome, the fifth pick in the 2011 draft. He had just 28 points in 71 games after posting 50 points a season ago, and he spent three weeks in the AHL in November trying to pick up his game.
Strome said he hadn’t spoken to Capuano yet.
“Last series [the message was] I needed to be a little harder to play against,” Strome said. “Points don’t always tell the whole story. I’m always confident in my game, but unfortunately I don’t make the decisions. I have to live with it. But it’s an important time here and no matter what I’m thinking right now, it’s all about the team. I’m sure Bails will do a great job.”
Pulock, who was injured in Game 4 against the Panthers, had been practicing fully the past week and seemed on target to return Tuesday night. But he left practice early on Monday and wasn’t on the ice at all Tuesday, which seemed a bit ominous. “He’s still not available, hopefully soon,” Capuano said.
Marek Zidlicky, who struggled with Tampa’s speed the first two games, remained in the Game 3 lineup on defense.