Wednesday, February 21, 2018
Tampa Bay Lightning

Tampa Bay Lightning GM Steve Yzerman says Steven Stamkos deserves MVP consideration

TAMPA — Lightning C Steven Stamkos' 50 goals are 11 more than any other NHL player.

His 40 even-strength goals also lead, his 84 points are second, and his 10 winning goals are tied at the top.

It is a rich enough resume, GM Steve Yzerman said, that Stamkos should be considered for league MVP.

"No question," Yzerman said Thursday. "He's elevated his play and scored so many goals that were part of our comeback. He's such a big part of our team, he should get serious consideration, in my opinion."

One thing that would hurt Stamkos with media voters is Tampa Bay not making the playoffs, said Yzerman, who acknowledged that is a legitimate caveat.

"The name of the game is to win, so generally you're going to look at who had the biggest impact on a winning team," he said. "But every now and then a player is so good and so important to his team, even if they don't make the playoffs, you have to take a look at him."

Pittsburgh C Evgeni Malkin, Rangers G Henrik Lundqvist and Red Wings C Pavel Datsyuk also should get consideration, Yzerman said.

Stamkos, 22, whose MVP profile has been building nationally, said his focus is on the team.

"You don't play to score a certain amount of goals or get individual awards," he said. "You play to win a team championship. … I'll keep working hard toward that. That's when you know you've done a lot."

THOMPSON HURT: C Nate Thompson did not play the final 7:37 against the Maple Leafs because of an upper-body injury coach Guy Boucher said might sideline him for Saturday's game with the Blues.

FEISTY: When Stamkos attacked Toronto D Dion Phaneuf with 1:22 left in the third for checking Marty St. Louis along the side boards with no penalty called, it was the continuation of a confrontation that had begun with 21.1 seconds left in the second.

That ended with matching unsportsmanlike conduct penalties and Stamkos getting an extra two minutes for high-sticking Phaneuf across the face.

"I thought he hit me late on that play the refs obviously didn't see," Stamkos said. "I gave him a shot back. He plays that way. We all know the way he plays and tries to get under your skin. It's something that he's obviously good at doing, but the refs didn't see how that started again and missed a call."

As for Stamkos, 6 feet 1, 188 pounds, going after Phaneuf, 6-3, 214, Boucher said he liked it. "He's standing up for his buddy," Boucher said. "He's a warrior, that kid, in every way."

IN THE HOUSE: W Carter Ashton, a 2009 first-round draft pick traded by the Lightning at the February deadline from AHL Norfolk to Toronto for D Keith Aulie, faced his former organization for the first time and had two shots and three hits in 14:37 of ice time.

MORE MEDICAL MATTERS: D Marc-Andre Bergeron said back surgery to relieve pressure on his sciatic nerve was a success. "The pain in my leg is gone," he said. "It's the moment I've waited for for a long time." … D Bruno Gervais (shoulder) was available but was scratched.

ODDS AND ENDS: The Maple Leafs are 3-0-0 against the Lightning this season with a 17-5 advantage in goals. … RW Adam Hall and wife Dina on Wednesday had their first child, Evan John Hall, 8 pounds, 4 ounces. … RW Brandon Segal, C Vinny Lecavalier (hand) and G Mathieu Garon (groin) also were scratched.

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