Stamkos gets a lesson in "compete"
After a nice, long run as a line mate to Marty St. Louis, rookie Steven Stamkos likely will start tonight's game with the Bruins on a line with Vinny Prospal and Brandon Bochensky. This isn't just coach Rick Tocchet switching up lines looking for some jump, though after Sunday's snoozer against the Senators, Tampa Bay could use it.
No, this is Tocchet sending a message to Stamkos to make sure he continues to compete at a high level. He has not done it the past few games, Tocchet said. The punishment is losing St. Louis as a line mate.
"When you play with Marty, that's a privilege," Tocchet said. "The message is, 'If you're going to play with Marty, you have to compete like he does.' "
Asked if, as a rookie, Stamkos, is going to go through inevitable dips, Tocchet said, "I don't mind the dips, but you can't have a big lull in competitiveness. The compete level, he's gone down the past two or three games. We had a talk with him on the plane (Monday), 'Don't throw away the past six weeks. ... The compete level has got to come back up. He got the message."
Stamkos, 19, has 19 goals, two off Brad Richards' team rookie mark, but he has just one point, a goal, in his past three games and five shots.
"It's tough," Stamkos said. "This is the first time in my life not making the playoffs, and the end of the season not meaning anything. It's a new experience. For me, I still have a lot to play for. You want to make an impact. I've had a pretty good second half. But you want to prove you're an elite player at this level so when next year comes, you can be a go-to guy. You want to make an impression at the end of the season, so the coaches feel good about your progress, and take it from there."
Other stuff from this morning: Former Lightning Mark Recchi, who has seven goals and nine points in 11 games since he was traded to the Bruins, said that beyond getting to play with some "great guys," the biggest positive about playing in Tampa Bay was being coached by Tocchet and his staff. "They made a tough situation as fun as possible and bearable," he said. ... Defenseman Matt Lashoff and wing Martins Karsums, who came from Boston in the Recchi deal, gettheir first chance to play against the Bruins. Lashoff admitted to mixed emotions. "I got a lot of really good friends on that team," he said. "It should be a healthy competition. ... Tocchet said Lashoff has shown an ability to skate and move the puck, and said, "He's got some tools to be an NHL defenseman. There's definitely something there." As for Karsums, who struggled when he first got to Tampa Bay, Tocchet said he has played better as he has gotten more comfortable with the Lightning's system. "He can hit and go to the net," Tocchet said. "There's definitely a job open for him. It's up to him now." ... Mike McKenna is expected to start in net. ... Goalie Karri Ramo, who was run over twice in Sunday's game against the Senators, said he was surprised when he woke up Monday his sore neck was not worse. ... Defenseman Matt Smaby said he expects to play after missing one game with a lower-body injury. ... Looks like forward Paul Szczechura (leg) is out again. ...