Time to give it up (again) for the Tampa Bay Lightning's Marty St. Louis
Since I just recently wrote a story for the paper about Marty St. Louis, the Tampa Bay Lightning's continually running motor, I decided to use this space to give another (and deserving) hand to the right wing for continuing his stellar play even after the story appeared.
You might recall that St. Louis did not want to talk about himself for the article. Bad luck, he said. Every time a positive story is in the paper, St. Louis said, the downturn is inevitable. But considering St. Louis has been involved in the most important plays in Tampa Bay's past four victories, safe to say St. Louis has overcome any of the demons he felt were at work.
Consider his hustle in beating New Jersey defenseman Andy Greene to the puck in the offensive zone led to Steven Stamkos' important goal in a 4-2 win over the Devils on Jan. 8. The goal, which put Tampa Bay up 4-1, came 69 seconds after the Devils closed to 3-1. St. Louis scored the winner in a 7-4 victory over the Capitals on Jan. 12 after Washington erased a 4-1 deficit to tie the score.
He made a perfect pass to a charging Steve Downie, who scored to break a 2-2 tie in a 3-2 win Monday over the Hurricanes, and his goal with 10 seconds left in overtime Thursday gave Tampa Bay a huge 3-2 win over the scrappy Maple Leafs.
That's 4-for-4 if you're keeping score.
Need stats? St. Louis entered Friday tied for 11th in the league with 55 points. His 24 power-play points were tied for the league lead. He was fourth with 42 assists. He was tied for third with 18 power-play assists.
Okay, so his 12 goals and minus-6 are probably not what St. Louis expected. But there probably isn't anyone who plays with more consistent passion and cares as much. And though St. Louis says he doesn't think about age, that he has stayed as consistent as he has at 34 is a testament to his commitment to conditioning. Suffice it to say I believe leaving him off the Canadian Olympic team was a mistake.
That said, it is incumbent on St. Louis as a team leader to continue to set the example and the pace if Tampa Bay is to make a push and reach the playoffs. Not to put it all on St. Louis. Vinny Lecavalier has to keep up the good work of the past six games (three goals, 10 points) and, well, nothing is possible without the defense getting sturdier.
Saturday's game with the Thrashers will be a good test. Atlanta is one point ahead of the Lightning in the Southeast and is one of the team's Tampa Bay must beat.
No need to remind St. Louis.