EDMONTON, Alberta — Dylan Strome, just four games since returning from an ankle injury that sidelined him for weeks, is out of the Blackhawks’ lineup again.
And this time, it’s as a healthy scratch.
Strome will be benched for Tuesday’s game against the Oilers as Alex Nylander re-enters the lineup and Matthew Highmore, inserted in Nylander’s spot Sunday in Winnipeg, retains his place.
“[We] think he’s got more to give,” coach Jeremy Colliton said of Strome. “As a staff, it’s our job to help him get there. [It’ll take a] combination of feedback and, sometimes, you’ve got to come out. You want to get Nylander back in, and Highmore’s played well, other guys have played well.”
Colliton clarified that the scratch is not injury-related, although he added that the time Strome missed due to his Jan. 7 ankle injury — he tried to practice a few days after the injury and said he couldn’t push off on that foot, so it clearly interrupted his skating for a while — might be indirectly contributing to his poor performance.
Playing as a winger on a struggling line with Alex DeBrincat and David Kampf, Strome had tallied zero points and just six shots on goal in four games since returning.
After DeBrincat’s awful performance Sunday, he seemed like a candidate for a message-sending scratching Tuesday, but Strome fits that bill, too. The Hawks entered Tuesday with just seven goals in their last four games and in desperate need of an offensive shakeup.
With 10 goals and 20 assists in 44 games this year, Strome still ranks fifth on the Hawks in scoring, but his undefined position has become a growing concern. Traditionally a center, Colliton has deployed Strome on the wing recently, and the new role has made him appear lost at times.
“I’d never really played the wing up until this year, but I don’t mind it,” Strome said earlier this month. “My whole life, I’ve been a natural centerman, but sometimes you have to adjust. I’m sure it’s going to go back and forth a few times this year.”
Tuesday will mark the 22-year-old forward’s first time ever scratched with the Hawks and his first time scratched at all since Nov. 15, 2018, with the Coyotes.