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. After offseason of work hard, play hard, DeSean Jackson ready to produce for Bucs


    TAMPA — There's no telling what DeSean Jackson will do once he gets a football in his hands. Perhaps that's why a camera crew followed his every move Wednesday while the Bucs' new $30 million receiver stood on a step of the hot tub that empties into a spacious, azure pool at his new, sprawling five-bedroom home in …

    DeSean Jackson jokes around with girlfriend Kayla Phillips at their Tampa home as a crew from HBO’s Hard Knocks documents their day.
  2. Rays journal: Jake Odorizzi goes on 10-day DL with back strain

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — RHP Jake Odorizzi is hoping his struggles this season can be tied directly to the lower-back strain he has tried to pitch through since spring training. Toward that end, the Rays placed Odorizzi on the 10-day disabled list Wednesday retroactive to Tuesday.

    Rays center fielder Mallex Smith smiles after hitting a single advancing runners in the third inning. [CHRIS URSO   |   Times]
  3. Playoff chase heats up for Rays with key series at Yankees up first (w/ video)

    The Heater


    It was important that Evan Longoria crushed a two-run homer in the sixth inning Wednesday and Steven Souza Jr. blasted a solo shot off the farthest catwalk an inning later.

    Adeiny Hechavarria (11) and Tim Beckham (1) celebrate the double play to end the top of the sixth inning. [WILL VRAGOVIC   |   Times]
  4. Rays at Yankees, 7:05 p.m. Thursday, New York

    The Heater

    Tonight: at Yankees

    7:05, Yankee Stadium, New York

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

    Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Chris Archer (22) throwing in the first inning of the game between the Texas Rangers and the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Saturday, July 22, 2017.
  5. Roger Mooney's takeaways from Wednesday's Rays-Orioles game

    The Heater

    It is going to get interesting tonight when the Rays begin a four-game series against the Yankees in New York. The Rays feel they are good enough to win the East Division. These next four games and the four that follow in Houston will be a good measuring stick.