TAMPA — Marty St. Louis expects more of himself, so the Lightning right wing understands those on the outside who expect more as well.
The difference is when St. Louis considers what he brings to the team, his evaluation doesn't stop at his admittedly meager five goals.
"I bring more than just goals to this team," St. Louis said. "I'm giving my linemates a lot of chances to score, and that's the best part of my game, I feel."
There is something to be said for assisting on 15 of the 29 combined goals of Steven Stamkos and Ryan Malone.
Still, on a team struggling to find secondary scoring — Stamkos and Malone have 52.7 percent of Tampa Bay's 55 goals, by far the most in the league for a tandem — St. Louis, who averaged 32 the past six seasons, has a responsibility to chip in, which he has done only three times in 20 games since scoring twice on opening night.
But is it fair to evaluate St. Louis on goals alone?
As Stamkos said, "If you watch him play, he's one of the best players out there. He's working hard and he's so skilled. Just because the goals aren't there, doesn't mean he's not playing well."
"And you know what?" St. Louis said. "I'll take any amount of goals I have if we're in the playoffs."
St. Louis, 34, is averaging 22:17 of ice time, tops in the league among right wings, and on Sunday played 26:50 against Atlanta.
He is playing on both power-play units and has 70 shots, second on the team and the same as Sharks star Dany Heatley. He has only three fewer than the Kings' Anze Kopitar, the league's top scorer, and four fewer than Stars playmaker Brad Richards.
"I feel like they're not shots from the blue line either," St. Louis said. "I think they're pretty decent shots. So, am I worried about my numbers? No.
"If I had five goals on 38 shots, I'd be, 'How am I not shooting the puck?' I'm in the areas to shoot, and the rest of my game is pretty strong, the playmaking and decision making."
Except for a streak of seven or eight games of which St. Louis said, "I was just getting by. I was fighting it a bit. You're game is not flowing. You're pushing."
"He's probably being hard on himself," coach Rick Tocchet said. "I wouldn't say seven or eight, but there was a stretch of two or three games when he wasn't himself. He was doing some uncharacteristic stuff. Things he usually doesn't do, he did."
Such as making poor defensive decisions and leaving the defensive zone early, a sign of a player looking to jump-start his offense.
"The thing with him is he can struggle, but he gets back to his game pretty quick," Tocchet said. "That's the difference he has over other players."
In fact, going into tonight's game with the Maple Leafs at the St. Pete Times Forum, St. Louis said he is playing "some pretty good hockey."
A defensive mistake led to a Thrashers goal, but he also had three takeaways in the game, and during last week's four-game road trip, St. Louis had two goals and four assists.
"I feel I'm back to having my game flow," St. Louis said.
Which only will increase expectations.
Around the league
MONTREAL — Marc-Andre Bergeron's goal 4:46 into the third led the Canadiens to a 5-3 win over the Blue Jackets.
First—1, Montreal, Cammalleri 12 (A.Kostitsyn, Plekanec), 5:50. 2, Columbus, Vermette 5 (Nash, Stralman), 6:36. 3, Columbus, Stralman 4 (Nash, Tyutin), 8:12 (pp). Penalties—Gorges, Mon (clipping), 8:05; S.Kostitsyn, Mon (tripping), 16:13; Huselius, Clm (holding stick), 16:42.
Second—4, Montreal, Bergeron 4 (Gorges, Plekanec), 9:30. 5, Columbus, Vermette 6 (Torres, Brassard), 11:46 (pp). Penalties—Mara, Mon (hooking), 6:09; Moen, Mon (roughing), 10:29; Boll, Clm (tripping), 14:17; Tyutin, Clm (hooking), 19:56.
Third—6, Montreal, Metropolit 5 (Hamrlik, Pacioretty), 2:18. 7, Montreal, Bergeron 5 (White, Pacioretty), 4:56. 8, Montreal, Lapierre 2 (S.Kostitsyn), 15:25. Penalties—None. Shots—Columbus 14-14-8—36. Montreal 7-9-13—29. Power plays—Columbus 2 of 4; Montreal 0 of 3. Goalies—Columbus, Garon 4-3-0 (29 shots-24 saves). Montreal, Price 7-8-1 (36-33). A—21,273
Damian Cristodero can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Information from Times wires was used in this report.