The Washington Capitals re-signed Dylan Strome and Sonny Milano to long-term deals during the Capital’s 10-day break for All-Star Weekend and its bye.
A little over a week later, both players were benched by Peter Laviolette during the Capitals’ 4-1 loss to the San Jose Sharks on Sunday.
Other than Aliaksei Protas, Strome and Milano were the two youngest forwards on the ice for the Caps. Their energy and creativity were needed in a back-to-back game where puck drop against the Sharks came 20 hours after their last game ended — a 2-1 victory over the first-place Boston Bruins. The Capitals are one of the oldest teams in the league.
Neither player had a point in the game.
The benching occurred in the second period. Strome took two shifts and skated 1:50 in the second period total while Milano received three shifts and 2:56 of ice time. Neither player saw the ice in the final nine minutes of the second period
Milano received a team low 9:25 of ice time overall — he was the only Capitals player under double digits. The number also represented the lowest ice time he’s received this season with the Capitals. Milano has one point, an assist, in his last seven games.
Meanwhile, Strome’s 12:09 was the second-lowest ice time he’s received this season from Laviolette. The only game he got fewer minutes was the Caps’ final game before its bye week against the Columbus Blue Jackets (11:18). Strome is on a five-game pointless streak overall.
The 25-year-old center has seemingly not been the same player since Nicklas Backstrom returned to the lineup and jumbled his spot in the lineup, posting only three goals and two assists in his last 12 games. Laviolette healthy-scratched Strome against the Philadelphia Flyers on January 14.
“I was trying to cut down to three (lines),” Laviolette explained of his decision after the game. “Trying to look for anything that had jump. There wasn’t a lot going on the second from any standpoint. I tried to address it after the second period as well. One of those games where it did not happen for us.”
Milano, Strome, and Nicolas Aube-Kubel were put together on the same line and finished the game somewhat strong in the third period. They out-attempted the Sharks 4-3 and out-chanced them 3-2 in 2:57 of 5v5 ice time.
While sitting for part of one game is not a big deal, the fact that the benchings came a week after the team re-signed both players is an eyebrow-raiser.
Headline photo: Alan Dobbins/RMNB
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