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)

Lightning's St. Louis, Stamkos pursue league titles

Good friends and linemates Marty St. Louis, left, and Steven Stamkos say they just need to play “the right way” tonight.

DIRK SHADD | Times

Good friends and linemates Marty St. Louis, left, and Steven Stamkos say they just need to play “the right way” tonight.

TAMPA — Marty St. Louis, the other day, tried to make the case that his pursuit of the NHL points title "is not worth talking about until it's actually there."

The truth is, with one game left in a second straight nonplayoff season for the Lightning, it is the only thing to talk about.

Even coach Jon Cooper said, "The one thing we have going is to hold on to that."

By the end of tonight's season finale with the Panthers at the Tampa Bay Times Forum, we will know if St. Louis has earned the Art Ross Trophy.

It would be his second, having also won in 2004. This time, though, the right wing, at 37, would be the oldest to win it.

It could be close.

St. Louis' 58 points, on 16 goals and 42 assists, are two ahead of teammate Steven Stamkos and Pittsburgh's Sidney Crosby. He is three ahead of Chicago's Patrick Kane and four ahead of Washington's Alex Ovechkin, who play their regular-season finales tonight. Crosby is out of Pittsburgh's finale tonight with a broken jaw.

With Stamkos in the mix — and that with 29 goals, he is three behind Ovechkin in the race for the Rocket Richard Trophy — you might see Stamkos and St. Louis, good friends as well as linemates, trying to get each other the puck.

But, as St. Louis said, "You get in these situations, you just play the game, play the right way. That's the only way you can help each other out."

"When you start forcing things and cheating," Stamkos said, "that's when you don't get rewarded."

•••

The biggest reward for St. Louis would be a return to the playoffs.

He turns 38 in June, so his career clock is ticking, which might make you wonder if St. Louis would ask general manager Steve Yzerman to find him a home with a contender.

No, St. Louis said, when asked if that was a consideration.

"I'm optimistic," he said about the direction of the team. "We have a lot of good things to be excited about."

About Cooper, he said, "I like the way he wants us to play, the way he sees the game. It's puck possession. It's five (players) defending, five attacking, five in all zones. It's exciting."

•••

In the abstract, St. Louis is having his greatest offensive season. His 16 goals extrapolated over a normal 82-game schedule would give him 30. His 42 assists would give him a career-best 73. The combined 103 points also would be a career mark.

"As miserable as the season has been for us not being in the playoffs … I'm pretty fortunate to see him every day," Stamkos said, "to see how hard he works and tries to be the best player he can be, no matter what age he is."

"It's inspiration," defenseman Radko Gudas said before he was reassigned to AHL Syracuse. "I'm trying to take as much as I can from him."

What will St. Louis take from this season?

"The way the team does is what's important," he said. "That's what you remember. Am I going to take myself off the hook because I had a good year? No, I have to be better."

Better than perhaps earning a points championship?

"Don't get me wrong, I'd be excited," St. Louis said of winning. "But those awards are never as fun when you're doing it in this kind of season as a team."

"I like where we're going," he added, "but I want to get there."

Damian Cristodero can be reached at cristodero@tampabay.com.

. Tonight

Season finale: Lightning vs. Panthers

When/where: 7; Tampa Bay Times Forum

TV/radio: Sun Sports; 970-AM

Key stats: Lightning C Steven Stamkos and W Marty St. Louis are first and second in the league with 33 and 32 home points, respectively. Stamkos' 18 home goals also lead. … Panthers C Jonathan Huberdeau entered Friday tied for the league lead among rookies with 14 goals and 28 points. … Florida's 13 road points (6-16-1) are worst in the East. … The Panthers have the league's worst penalty kill, 73.8 percent. … Florida has been outscored 59-33 in first periods. … Tampa Bay is 3-0-1 this season against the Panthers.

Lightning's St. Louis, Stamkos pursue league titles 04/26/13 [Last modified: Friday, April 26, 2013 11:12pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Nature Coast puts unbeaten streak on the line vs. IMG White

    Footballpreps

    BROOKSVILLE — Nature Coast currently rides a 22-game regular-season win streak, but first-year football coach Cory Johns was not around for any of those wins. Neither was most of his coaching staff. This is an entirely new campaign with new obstacles ahead.

    Nature Coast offensive lineman Louis Miele (66) blocks a Sunlake defensive player during the Clash 4 Clayton football scrimmage and fundraiser at Springstead High School Spring Hill, Fla. on Saturday, August 12, 2017.
  2. Crosstown rivals Bloomingdale-Newsome kick off season

    Footballpreps

    LITHIA — In a week filled with area football rivalries, there is a game on the east side of Hillsborough County — Bloomingdale vs. Newsome — that has matured into a classic crosstown battle, complete with classic cliches.

    Bloomingdale wide receiver Ed Amos charges through a drill a few days before the big rivalry game against Newsome on Friday night.
  3. Bucs Cannon Fodder podcast: Several key players still sidelined

    Bucs

    Greg Auman gives an injury update, with several key players still sidelined from practice three days before the Bucs play the Cleveland Browns in Tampa, and a full recap of your favorite scenes from Tuesday …

    Bucs wide receiver Mike Evans was held out of practice Wednesday at One Buc Place. [CHARLIE KAIJO | Times]
  4. Playoff ambitions evident in opener for Zephyrhills, Wiregrass Ranch

    Footballpreps

    WESLEY CHAPEL — A new football season in Pasco County begins Friday night, but this one promises to be like none before it — with more math than ever. A new playoff system emphasizes schedule strength, making non-district tilts particularly important.

    Wiregrass Ranch wide receiver Jordan Miner catches a pass in spring practice at Wiregrass Ranch High School in Wesley Chapel on Monday, May 1, 2017.
  5. Dirk Koetter says Bucs used team meeting to discuss social issues

    Bucs

    During a 20-minute team meeting Tuesday, Bucs coach Dirk Koetter decided to turn the discussion to social issues and whether players are expected to stand for the national anthem.

    "The main thing is we have to respect everybody's opinion," Dirk Koetter said, "because everybody is not going to agree." [AP photo]