NEWARK, N.J. – Tyson Strachan knew he’d be playing in the playoffs. He just didn’t know which team he’d be playing for.
The 27-year-old defenseman, who played in 25 games for the Las Vegas Wranglers in 2007-08, spent the majority of his season with the AHL’s San Antonio Rampage, but also filled in admirably during a 15-game stint with the Florida Panthers.
Strachan had already played in one Calder Cup Playoffs game with the Rampage when he got called up to the NHL after injuries sidelined both Jason Garrison and Keaton Ellerby. For Strachan, who has split the last four seasons between the AHL and NHL, it’s not as challenging of a scenario as you may think.
"I don’t think it’s too difficult, it’s the playoffs either way," said Strachan after Florida’s Game 6 loss.
"It’s that time of year that we all get excited for. I’m just trying to jump in and help out any way I can, whether I’m up or down. At the end of the day, there’s a Cup at the end of the rainbow, so either way I’ve got to fight for that."
The Melfort, Saskatchewan native played in 50 games for the Rampage this season, registering three goals and 14 assists. While obviously grateful for an opportunity to see his first playing time in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, Strachan admits it was a little difficult to leave his teammates behind to do so.
"Obviously, you’re excited about coming here, but at the same time you feel bad for the guys that are in the middle of a battle down there," he said.
"You’ve got to say, ‘OK, I’ll see you later.’ Obviously, that’s a tough situation, but without me last game, they did fine. They’re in good shape, but we just need to rebound and come back for the game on Thursday."
Strachan, who tallied his first NHL goal earlier this season, registered his first Stanley Cup Playoffs point on Tuesday, tallying an assist on Florida’s second goal. Whether he’ll get a chance to record another one remains to be seen, as reports out of Florida have Garrison being a game-time decision to play in Game 7 on Thursday. But if he does get the opportunity, Strachan has the right mindset to help the Panthers to the second round.
"It’s a one game series now, and we worked all year to get this home ice advantage, and this is why," Strachan told ECHL.com. "So we just need to win one game at home and I know our fans will be there to root us on. Obviously, we’ll look at this game and reflect on it a little bit and move on. We’ll look forward to Thursday and bring our best game."