Tampa Bay Lightning C Steve Stamkos' 114 goals at age 21 4th best ever; Mattias Ritola on waivers
So, Tampa Bay Lightning star Steven Stamkos turned 21 on Monday. He got the obligatory pie in the face from his teammates and had dinner with his dad, Chris, Steve Downie and Downie's mom and friends. There was that Super Bowl party on Sunday night which he admitted was his real coming-of-age moment, but who can blame him.
Anyway, time to take stock. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Stamkos' 114 goals by the age of 21 are the fourth-most in league history behind Wayne Gretzky (167), Jimmy Carson (141) and Dale Hawerchuk (122). Ilya Kovalchuk was fifth at 108.
"I'm definitely proud of what I've been able to do," Stamkos said, "especially the way things went at the beginning. You realize how much fun I'm having this year. You don't realize it until you get to experience it. You don't realize how great it is coming to the rink every day, being around the guys when you're winning. I'd trade that for individual success."
Of course, the Lightning doesn't have its success this season without Stamkos who leads the league with 40 goals and 72 points.
"I'm just having fun," he said. "We're a confident group It's an exciting time to play hockey here in Tampa."
Other stuff from the morning skate: Forward Mattias Ritola, who has bee scratched for four straight games and seven of the past eight (and recently had another attack from his Meniere's disease) was put on waivers, likely for the purpose of sending him to AHL Norfolk. We will know at noon Wednesday if he is claimed. Ritola, since being acquired off waivers from the Red Wings in September, has been a tough case. He has shown flashes of the skill GM Steve Yzerman believes he has, and he has two goals and six points in 24 games. But he has been stymied by his condition which causes headaches, dizziness and ringing in his right ear. That makes it difficult getting him into the lineup because, as happened Jan. 25 before the game with the Maple Leafs, you never know when he will have an attack. With the trade deadline coming, and Yzerman trying to perhaps make a move, he has to know what his roster is looking like. ... As expected, Dwayne Roloson is back in net for Tampa Bay. ... Wing Ryan Malone is back in the lineup after missing five straight games with a mid-body injury he repeatedly declined to divulge. ... Center Nate Thompson, who may or may not have a concussion is being held out as a precaution. Thompson said the injury occurred near the end of the third period of Sunday's overtime win over the Blues. He said he got squeezed off along the boards by defenseman Eric Brewer. Thompson said there was nothing dirty about the hit that knocked his head off the side glass. "I got my bell rung a little bit," Thompson said. "It was just an awkward type of thing." ... Here's an interesting stat: The Lightning has not had two power play goals in a game since Dec. 20 against the Hurricanes and is 11-for-80 (13.8 percent) in the 21 games since. Coach Guy Boucher has talked about how bad the team's entries into the offensive zone have been, and they devoted a great deal of practice to that on Monday. But also consider the Lightning has won just 12 of 37 faceoffs (32 percent) during power plays the past four games. That really hurts the ability to set up, and it wastes time retrieving the puck the other team just shot down the ice. ... Boucher called Buffalo's Ryan Miller, "Maybe the best goalie in the league." He also compared facing the Sabres tonight to Tampa Bay's game Friday with the Capitals in that both Buffalo and Washington had two days off before the contest. "They're coming in with two days of rest preparing only for us," Boucher said. "So, it's the same scenario it was with Washington. This is a team that's going to come in with a lot of desperation. If we don't match that, we're cooked. The Players know that. With the slap we had against Washington with the attitude of overconfidence we had, I don't think we're going to live that. We have a better approach today." ... When Roloson played for the Sabres, there was little playing time backing up Dominic Hasek. So Ruff said he is not surprised Roloson found his way after leaving the Sabres. "Just playing one game a month is tough for any goaltender," Ruff said. "Trying to play behind the starter is a special skill. Once he became the guy that's playing 60 games, that got him in a groove and got him confident, and he became a really god goaltender."