Happy as Steven Stamkos is about going to the All-Star Game with teammate Marty St. Louis, he doesn't seem to mind the possibility of playing on opposite teams.
Rosters for the Jan. 30 showcase at the RBC Center in Raleigh, N.C., won't be set until Jan. 28, when the captains choose sides like in a pickup game.
"From being able to know where the puck is going when he has it the majority of the time, if we're against each other, hopefully I can go out there and shut him down," Stamkos said, smiling.
It will be the first All-Star Game for Stamkos, 20, though the center, who is second in the league with 31 goals and 57 points, played in the 2009 YoungStars Game.
It will be the franchise-best sixth game for St. Louis, 35, and sixth in a row.
"I don't care which team they play for as long as they were chosen," coach Guy Boucher said. "It's an honor for them. It's an honor for the organization. I feel privileged coaching those guys."
The announcement from the league, which picked 36 All-Stars to join six previously selected by fan balloting, was a well-timed diversion.
Tampa Bay faces the Capitals for first place in the Southeast Division tonight at the St. Pete Times Forum in Tampa, and the All-Star Game provided something to talk about other than how the Lightning enters on a 1-2-0 streak in which it was outscored 15-6.
Not that the "huge" game, as Stamkos called it, was overlooked.
"They're going to be big games," St. Louis said of the three remaining with Washington, all at the Times Forum. "These are probably the toughest games we see. No disrespect to the other teams in our division, but Washington is our toughest opponent."
And it is showing up at a time when, Boucher admitted, his players, after a four-game road trip and having played a league-high 26 road games, are fatigued.
"We're a little traveled out," Boucher said. "We probably had the toughest schedule anybody has had in the NHL up to now.
"It's the first time I feel our players are tired. Before this, the battery was always recharging quickly. Now it's not recharging quickly. The emotional state of our team has to be recharged."
Tuesday's spirited workout at the Ice Sports Forum was a good start, as was the feel-good talk about St. Louis and Stamkos, linemates the past two years, headed to the All-Star Game.
"It's a pretty big honor," Stamkos said. "It's something you always dream about, to one day be an All-Star in the NHL, and dreams come true. I'm happy to share it with Marty. My success has a lot to do with him."
"Stammer is making his own mark right now," St. Louis said. "He deserves to be there."
But so does St. Louis, who is fifth in the league with 53 points on 18 goals and 35 assists.
Asked if it is weird he could play against Stamkos, the wing said, "Yeah, it is, but it's a different format, and I'm excited for it. It should be fun."
Even if Stamkos shuts him down.
NOTES: Goaltender Mike Smith (knee) practiced with the team for the first time since Dec. 20. … Norfolk left wing Johan Harju will play in the AHL All-Star Game on Jan. 31 in Hershey, Pa.
Damian Cristodero can be reached at email@example.com.