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. Marc Topkin's takeaways from Monday's Rays-Angels game

    The Heater

    OF/DH Corey Dickerson missed out on a good birthday gift when AL player of the week honors went instead to Detroit's J.D. Martinez. Dickerson hit .385 with five homers, nine RBIs and nine runs; Martinez went .389-4-9-7 and got the nod.

  2. Rays journal: Alex Cobb learning to work with what he has

    Sports

    ST. PETERSBURG

    If this were 2012 or 2013, even 2014, RHP Alex Cobb would have problems. He would find himself working with only two of his three pitches, with the missing pitch being his trusty changeup.

    Alex Cobb, working mainly with his fastball and curveball, is 3-1 with a 2.78 ERA over his past five starts. The Rays right-hander tries to continue his strong stretch tonight against the Angels.
  3. Rays vs. Angels, 7:10 p.m. Tuesday, Tropicana Field

    The Heater

    Tonight: vs. Angels

    7:10, Tropicana Field

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

    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)
  4. Fennelly: This season's Chris Archer is a pleasure to watch

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG

    At this time last season, through 10 starts, Rays pitcher Chris Archer was 3-5 on his way to 9-19.

    Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Chris Archer (22) throwing in the first inning of the game between the Tampa Bay Rays and the New York Yankees at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Sunday, May 21, 2017.
  5. Bucs' O.J. Howard ends big day with BP, first pitch for Rays

    Blogs

    Bucs tight end O.J. Howard is known for his athleticism at 6-foot-6, 251-pounds. As an outfielder, he took his Autuaga Academy High School baseball team to the state tournament in Alabama as a junior.

    On Monday, after a little instruction from Steven Souza, Jr., the left-handed hitting Howard started making …