Make us your home page
Instagram

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Less ice time not hurting Steven Stamkos' production for Lightning

Tampa Bay Lightning center Steven Stamkos (91) scores past Toronto Maple Leafs goalie Frederik Andersen (31) during the first period of an NHL hockey game, Tuesday, Oct. 25, 2016 2016 in Toronto. (Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press via AP) NSD103

Tampa Bay Lightning center Steven Stamkos (91) scores past Toronto Maple Leafs goalie Frederik Andersen (31) during the first period of an NHL hockey game, Tuesday, Oct. 25, 2016 2016 in Toronto. (Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press via AP) NSD103

NEWARK, N.J.

Captain Steven Stamkos is off to a hot start this season.

And an efficient one.

That Stamkos entered Saturday's game against the Devils leading the Lightning with nine points, including five goals in his first seven games, was encouraging. It wasn't unexpected, the All-Star saying his mind is finally free of distractions after signing an eight-year, $68 million contract in June to stay with Tampa Bay.

But it's interesting that Stamkos had done so while averaging his lowest ice time since his rookie season (14:56 in 2008-09). This is not a criticism or an attempt to stir the pot in the Lightning's strong start. Stamkos still led the team's forwards at 18:39. Jonathan Drouin was the closest to him at 18:10.

Stamkos plays on the power play and the penalty kill, which he likes. It's not like he had been limited to 10 to 12 minutes a game. And it was only seven games.

But Stamkos was averaging more than a minute less than last season's 19:45, which was well off his career high of 22:01, set in 2011-12 and 2012-13.

"Hey, I'd like to play 60 minutes a night," Stamkos said. "I think if you ask any player, they want to play as much as possible. It's just the way it's worked out. Things have gone well for our team and myself. I don't think anyone is ever going to say they want to play less. That's the way it's gone so far. We've had success, and hopefully we can keep it up."

The Lightning has a deep forward group, and coach Jon Cooper can spread out the minutes. Six forwards were logging 17 minutes or more (that would have been seven if Nikita Kucherov hadn't missed the final two periods of Thursday's 3-1 loss to Montreal due to injury). Alex Killorn, who entered Saturday with a team-high six goals, was averaging a career-high 17:27. Drouin understandably had a four-minute spike from last season. Even rookie Brayden Point was playing 15 minutes a game.

It makes sense. It's just something to watch as the season progresses.

BOOers BEWARE? Stamkos said that Tuesday in Toronto was just the second time in his NHL career that he had been booed. The first was Nov. 14, 2011, in Winnipeg, when Jets fans were upset about how Stamkos sold a high-sticking call to get a Tampa Bay five-on-three power play. Stamkos scored in both those games, so it might not be a good idea for opposing fans to do it.

EXPANSION TALK: A fascinating piece by ESPN's Pierre LeBrun on Thursday revealed a telling part of the still-developing rules for June's expansion draft. The new Las Vegas franchise will have a 48-hour window ahead of the draft to speak with and sign pending unrestricted and restricted free agents other teams left unprotected for the draft.

The Lightning has several players who can be restricted free agents in the summer, including Drouin, center Tyler Johnson and wing Ondrej Palat, though they're expected to be protected. Defensemen Andrej Sustr and Nikita Nesterov also can be restricted free agents. Would Las Vegas make a run at signing pending unrestricted free-agent goalie Ben Bishop? If a team loses any pending free agent, then it wouldn't have to lose another player in the expansion draft.

SLAP SHOTS: Interesting to look at NHL scoring leaders entering Saturday and see two former Lightning forwards, Chicago's Richard Panik (six goals) and Florida's Jonathan Marchessault (10 points). … Not only is Brayden Point likely to stick with the Lightning, he also seems to be a big part of its plans. He was averaging 15:49 of ice time. … The Canadiens appear to be the toughest threat to the Lightning winning the Atlantic Division.

Less ice time not hurting Steven Stamkos' production for Lightning 10/29/16 [Last modified: Saturday, October 29, 2016 11:43pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. James Wilder Jr. back at running back...in Canada

    Blogs

    Remember when former Plant High star and Florida State running back James Wilder Jr. announced he was switching to linebacker?

    That was short-lived, apparently.

  2. Cup-winning Lightning captain Dave Andreychuk makes Hockey Hall of Fame

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — Hall of Fame coach Scotty Bowman said Dave Andreychuk's name has surfaced often the past eight years with the selection committee.

    30 Oct 2001:  Left wing Dave Andreychuk #25 of the Tampa Bay Lightning skates towards the blue line during the NHL game against the Toronto Maple Leafs at Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Canada.  The Maple Leafs defeated the Lightning 3-2.  Mandatory Credit:  Dave Sanford /Allsport
  3. Rays acquire slick-fielding shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria from Marlins

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Chaim Bloom said the Rays weren't necessarily in the market for a shortstop. The team has a number of those. But when the Marlins recently began shopping Adeiny Hechavarria, well, that was too much to pass up.

    Adeiny Hechavarria has emerged as one of baseball’s top defensive shortstops in the past three seasons with the Marlins.
  4. Rays at Pirates, 7:05 p.m. Tuesday, Pittsburgh

    The Heater

    Tonight: at Pirates

    7:05, PNC Park

    TV/radio: Fox Sports Sun; 620-AM, 680-AM (Spanish)

    Probable pitchers

    Rays: Alex Cobb (6-5, 4.05)

    PORT CHARLOTTE, FL - FEBRUARY 18:  Alex Cobb #53 of the Tampa Bay Rays poses for a portrait during the Tampa Bay Rays photo day on February 18, 2017 at Charlotte Sports Park in Port Charlotte, Floida.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
  5. Lightning journal: Forward Yanni Gourde agrees to two-year deal

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — Just three years ago, Yanni Gourde was fighting to stay in pro hockey.

    Tampa Bay Lightning center Yanni Gourde celebrates after scoring against the Florida Panthers during the second period of an NHL hockey game, Saturday, March 11, 2017, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara) TPA108