It's all Steven Stamkos all the time as the Tampa Bay Lightning center asks himself the burning question
It wasn't difficult to know where the herd of reporters would go once the Tampa Bay Lightning locker room was opened after the morning skate in Winnipeg: straight to seated star Steven Stamkos.
As the group approached, Stamkos playfully mocked it by asking himself: "Well, Steven, are you going to try to score 60 goals tonight?"
He also answered: "I'm certainly going to try."
It's been that kind of week for Stamkos, who has been surrounded by media after each morning skate and after each game. And while he probably is tired of the same questions, he had to expect the attention. Only 19 NHL players have ever scored 60 goals in a season. It has happened just once in the previous 14 seasons.
So, yes, Stamkos, will be the center of attention tonight as the Lightning plays its season finale against the Jets.
"With Stamkos coming in trying to get his 60th, that’s going to be pretty fun to watch,” Jets center Tim Stapleton said. “We owe it to the fans to come out and play our best.”
Lightning coach Guy Boucher said Stamkos' teammates owe it to Stamkos to not change their game. That has been a running theme with Boucher on the three-game road trip. Stamkos has even asked his teammates not to try to force-feed him passes.
As Boucher said: "When you try to feed somebody that's covered all the time, it doesn't help your team. Players got to play. He'll find a way. He'll get rebounds. He'll get tips. So you don't want to change your game just because he's going to get 60 because, to me, if he gets 59, I don't think he's a worse player than if he gets 60."
Other stuff from the morning skate: As expected, Dwayne Roloson gets the start in net for the Lightning. ... There was a nice scene after the morning skate as Lightning center Vinny Lecavalier went into the stands to greet players from Ontario's Couchiching First Nation who have four teams in town to play in the Manitoba Aboriginal Sports and Recreation Council Indigenous Minor Hockey Tournament. The kids presented Lecavalier with a $2,000 check for Cut for a Cure, the program in which Lightning players shaved their heads to raise money for cancer treatment and research. "This is great," Lecavalier said. "They're doing something great. It's great to see the way the kids get involved." ... If you've noticed that defenseman Victor Hedman has played inconsistently lately, you are right. Hedman said as much, blaming two stints on the sideline because of injury in which he missed 17 games since late December because of a concussion and an undisclosed upper-body injury. "I've been doing mistakes during games where I said, 'Why did I do that?' "Hedman said. "I haven't been on the same high level I need to be." Boucher said the first injury (the concussion) created some tentativeness in Hedman's game. "It's tough to know how a guy comes back after a head injury. He can't be the same," Boucher said. "They've always got that in the back of their minds for sure. So, even though he won't admit it, I think that had an effect on him hesitating on plays." That said, Boucher added, "He's going to be a terrific defenseman. He's a young puppy still." ... The Lightning is 4-12-1 with a tie in season closing games, and 5-11-2 in road closers. ... Funny line from Boucher, who was asked what he thinks about the support for the Jets in Winnipeg. After extolling the loud fans and the way the team has manhandled Tampa Bay at the MTS Center (going 2-0-0 so far), Boucher said: "I liked them better in Atlanta."