Make us your home page

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

(View our Privacy Policy)

Lightning's focus on St. Louis

TAMPA — Marty St. Louis has been through plenty of scoring slumps in his career. As he said Sunday, "I know I can get streaky."

So the Lightning captain isn't overly concerned with his current skid, especially because he believes he is skating well and doing the right things on the ice.

Still, St. Louis has just one goal in his past 12 games and is minus-7 in his past eight at a time Tampa Bay, without injured star Steven Stamkos, needs him to be at his best.

Perhaps that is a bit unfair. It is a team game, and St. Louis isn't the only Lightning player missing from the score sheet. Teddy Purcell has one goal in 17 games. Ryan Malone has two in 17.

But St. Louis' stature puts him in a special leadership position, especially with Tampa Bay (14-8-1) coming off a 0-3-1 road trip in which it was outscored 17-6.

"My whole life I put pressure on myself," he said. "There's nobody that can put more pressure on me than myself. I think that's why I was able to play at the level that I am."

That will be celebrated before tonight's game with the Rangers at the Tampa Bay Times Forum when St. Louis, 38, is presented with a silver stick to commemorate his 1,000th game, played Tuesday in Los Angeles.

But then it is back to business. St. Louis — with eight goals and 21 points in 23 games, and whose average 21:13 of ice time is most among league right wings — acknowledged that business has gotten more difficult since Stamkos went down with a broken right leg Nov. 11 and opponents switched their primary defensive pressure to him.

"Every night I'm playing against the top guys," St. Louis said. "It's a task that I'm used to, and you want that challenge. If you start making excuses, that's when you're going to take a longer time to get out of it. But if you keep pushing and expect good things, you should be all right."

For St. Louis, like the rest of the Lightning, deliverance from an offensive slump starts with defense.

Tampa Bay had gotten lazy in the defensive zone. The concept of defending as a five-man unit had slackened. Forwards were cheating toward the offensive zone. And after an emotional surge in two victories after Stamkos was hurt, there was the inevitable letdown.

"A little reality set in for us, and we lost some games," coach Jon Cooper said. "Now we're spinning into that cycle of (Stamkos) hasn't played for us in a while. We understand how our team is and what we can do, and Marty falls into that, too."

St. Louis helped invigorate Tampa Bay's team defense by playing what Cooper called "perhaps his best game in weeks" in Friday's 1-0 overtime loss to the Ducks.

"He was humming," Cooper said. "We ran into a hot goalie (Jonas Hiller), but he was a big reason we played so well. He showed a lot of leadership. He was a big part of why we snuck out a point."

"A lot of what we've been doing wrong is defensive, and that's what we've been working on," wing Alex Killorn said. Against the Ducks, St. Louis "was definitely a leader in that sense," he said.

Still, a goal now and then would be nice.

"At the end of the day," St. Louis said, "it's about results."

MOVES: With defenseman Radko Gudas (upper body) and left wing Malone (foot) questionable for tonight, wing Nikita Kucherov and defenseman Dmitry Korobov were called up from AHL Syracuse. Kucherov leads the Crunch with 13 goals and 24 points in 17 games. Korobov leads at plus-7.

. Tonight

Lightning vs. Rangers

When/where: 7:30; Tampa Bay Times Forum

TV/radio: Sun Sports; 970-AM

Key stats: Lightning G Ben Bishop is 3-0-0 against the Rangers, with a 1.26 goals-against average and a .952 save percentage. … New York has earned at least a point in 100 consecutive games in which it entered the third period with a lead. … Tampa Bay has lost three straight to the Rangers by a combined score of 12-4. … New York G Cam Talbot is 5-0-0 in his past five starts, with a 1.18 goals-against average and a .954 save percentage. … The Lightning power play is in a 3-for-34 slump.

Lightning's focus on St. Louis 11/24/13 [Last modified: Monday, November 25, 2013 1:24am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. NFL Week 3: What we learned


    Take the knee … well, not NOW

     1. Photo of Roger Mooney for Times Sports.
  2. Marc Topkin's takeaways from Sunday's Rays-Orioles game

    The Heater

    RHP Chris Archer's primary problem Sunday, as in much of September, was a lack of slider command. When he can't throw it where he wants, and doesn't have the confidence in the changeup to throw it often, he can't win with just his fastball.

  3. Somehow, Rays' Chris Archer remains just shy of being an ace

    The Heater

    BALTIMORE — Chris Archer had another bad game Sunday.

    Chris Archer is sputtering to the finish line, his rough start on Sunday his fourth in his past five in which he hasn’t gotten past four innings.
  4. Bradenton high school senior Chasten Whitfield inspires young anglers


    MADEIRA BEACH — The kids lined up single file, snow cones in hand, a procession of sweaty, excited grade schoolers watching Chasten Whitfield throw a cast net.

    Whitfield, a senior at Bradenton Manatee, demonstrates how to throw a cast net at the FishKids tournament in Madeira Beach. She also taught knot tying.
  5. Wreck helps Kyle Busch take control of Monster Cup's ISM 300

    Auto racing

    LOUDON, N.H. — Kyle Busch saw little but billowing white smoke that engulfed the track and blinded enough drivers that it caused a tremendous wreck that notably altered the race running order.

    Kyle Busch celebrates with a burnout after his third victory of the season that earns a berth in the second round of NASCAR’s playoffs. He also has some fun with Loudon the Lobster.