Lightning C Steven Stamkos: "The way you fight adversity is the way you become better as a player"
Tampa Bay Lightning center Steven Stamkos will be the subject of a story for the paper this week, but he hit so many topics during a conversation Tuesday at the Ice Sports Forum in Brandon, there is no way, given space limitations with our print product, it all will get in.
So, here is Stamkos, who leads the league with 43 goals, talking about a frustrating 19-game stretch in which he has just three goals at a time his team is starved for goals, how he is trying to break the slump and keep some perspective. As he said, "It's tough just because of how competitive I am and how much I want to help this team win."
On his slump: Yeah, it’s tough, especially because of the way things went at the beginning of the year. The season takes its course. Sometimes things are good, sometimes they are bad. It just happens that way. The way you fight that adversity is the way you become better as a player. Everyone has gone through this. The best players ever to play have gone through streaks like this. It’s not something you have to panic about. It’s worrisome because you want to get goals, especially this time of year. You just have to stick with the plan.
On how much pressure he feels: "There’s pressure there, yeah, but it’s something the coaching staff is trying to take off of individuals. It’s a team thing. It’s something we have to do a lot better as a team. Obviously, I want to step up and help this team out. That’s’ what my plan is coming into every night. It doesn’t seem to be happening right now. It’s a little frustrating, but at the end of the day you just have to stay the course. It’s tough sometimes, but that’s what you have to do.
On steps to shake the slump: The hardest step is trying to play the game you have always played and been successful at. When things aren’t going well you tend to change things and that just leads to sometimes digging yourself deeper in the hole. Ultimately, that stuff doesn’t work. It’s doing the things, the basics, game in and game out, and that’s the toughest part. It’s the easiest thing to say but it’s the toughest part because you want to change things up, you want to cheat here and there. You want to wait for those lucky bounces. At the end of the day you might get one out of 10. You might score that lucky goal but you’re not getting back to the player you were when you were playing well. That’s the toughest part.
On zero shots against the Islanders: It’s tough to think there’s a progression when something like that happens. It’s just the way it’s gone the last little while for whatever reason. It’s not for lack of effort. It’s not me not working hard enough. It’s just maybe trying to work too hard and making the play you know is right, slowing the game down, taking that extra second and making that play. When you’re in these things mistakes get magnified. When you’re playing well you make mistakes but you forget about it because you had a great shift before that or you have a goal that game; you’re feeling good about yourself. When the team is winning it doesn’t show up as something as big. Everything gets magnified when you’re losing, and you make mistakes. It takes a toll on you but it’s just finding the way to get out of it, and it’s something I’m trying to do right now.
On added pressure as the league's top goal scorer: You can take that as a positive thing or negative thing. You’re looking at the player that you were and you were able to score so many goals in so few games and have people behind you by so many goals. If you look at it that way, that’s how you have to go about it, watch the games that you played well, watch your goals, start feeling good about yourself again, get that confidence back. It’s something that, for me, I’m dealing with right now and, hopefully, it makes me a better player.
On watching video of himself: Yeah, I do that all the time. It’s just getting that confidence back knowing you can go out there and make plays and score goals. When you go through stretches like that you try to visualize and think of positive things.
On a bad game against New York: It’s frustrating. You want to be a guy who can be counted on to be a game-changer. You want those pucks in those situations, and when you don’t it’s tough just because of how competitive I am and how much I want to help this team win. So, at the end of the day it’s a little frustrating. But you just have to remember in the big picture, at the end of the day you’re doing something that you love and you’re very fortunate to be doing that. If you look at it that way, it makes you want to come back to the rink and just keep plugging away.