Sunday, May 27, 2018
Tampa Bay Lightning

Without Stamkos, Lightning's St. Louis missing primary catalyst

For six seasons, Steven Stamkos and Marty St. Louis have been one of the NHL's most dynamic pairings, joined at the hip, so to speak, as center and right wing, respectively.

But Tuesday, as Stamkos was having a titanium rod inserted in his broken right tibia and the Lightning prepared for a game at Montreal — its first game without its best player — St. Louis quietly noted his buddy's absence.

"To not have him around on the ice, off the ice, it's different," St. Louis said. "It's part of the game. But he's one of our leaders and a really well-liked guy, so when he's not around, it is different."

But especially for St. Louis, 38, who has said playing alongside Stamkos, 23, keeps him young. And their undeniable chemistry certainly has pushed both to offensive heights.

But Stamkos, whose 14 goals are tied for the league lead and whose 23 points are second, is out indefinitely, which means St. Louis is without his primary catalyst during a stretch in which his production has gone flat.

"If anybody is going to be a little chemistry-affected, it's going to be Marty," coach Jon Cooper said. "But he's played 900 games in this league (actually 997). He's our captain, and this is an opportunity I think he'll seize."

"Yeah, it's going to be a little bit of a different game for me," St. Louis said. "But I also take that as a challenge."

How much does St. Louis feed off Stamkos? Consider Stamkos has assisted on all of St. Louis' seven goals this season.

Lately, though, even with Stamkos in the lineup, St. Louis has struggled, with no goals and two assists in his past seven games and no goals in his past five.

"It starts with me," St. Louis said when asked how the team will cope without Stamkos. "I have to be better. Hopefully I'm able to lead the way here in what we have coming up the next few months."

St. Louis, playing with center Brett Connolly and Alex Killorn, did not get a point in Tuesday's 2-1 shootout win over the Canadiens. But he played a season-high 24:04 and led a vintage first-period rush in which he passed to himself off the side boards and zipped around a defender.

He got the best of Montreal's P.K. Subban with a defensive-zone check that separated the puck from last season's Norris Trophy winner as the league's top defenseman.

"I thought he was exceptional," Cooper said. "He created. We had chances, and that's what we're going to need. We need leadership. He's the one leading the way. Ultimately, I think he's putting a little unnecessary weight on his shoulders. But he's probably taking a little off the rest of the team's shoulders."

Knowing St. Louis, he will feel every ounce of that weight as the Lightning (13-5-0) tries to maintain its Eastern Conference lead through a brutal five-game stretch that begins tonight at the Tampa Bay Times Forum against the West-leading Ducks.

Road games at Phoenix, Los Angeles, San Jose and Anaheim follow. The combined record of those opponents is 65-20-10.

"This is a time you want to play well for a guy who has given everything to this organization," St. Louis said of Stamkos. "It's time to go to work."

 
Comments
Vegas envy: Is Tampa Bay ready for a Vegasí birth-to-best story?

Vegas envy: Is Tampa Bay ready for a Vegasí birth-to-best story?

What in the name of the 0-26 Bucs is going on here?The breathtaking Vegas Golden Knights are the greatest expansion team in professional sports history. They are the best (or worst) thing to ever happen to our games, having won 51 times during the re...
Updated: 11 hours ago
Steve Yzermanís summer plans: Make the Lightning better

Steve Yzermanís summer plans: Make the Lightning better

TAMPA — Captain Steven Stamkos said the Lightning's window for contending for a Stanley Cup championship is not closing."I think it's wide open," he said Thursday, one day after the Lightning lost Game 7 of the Eastern Conference final to the C...
Published: 05/25/18
When will the Lightning run out of wait-til-next-years?

When will the Lightning run out of wait-til-next-years?

TAMPA — Disbelief will eventually give way to acceptance.The Lightning isn't there yet.It isn't there yet in a lot of ways.Will it ever be?Just wondering.Really, what guarantees are there?Late Wednesday, Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechki...
Published: 05/24/18
Fight off the frustration, Lightning, and donít panic

Fight off the frustration, Lightning, and donít panic

TAMPA — Don't change a thing.Don't blow it up. Don't fire anyone. Don't overreact.Thursday was not an easy day in Lightning Land. It was the day after the end of a season that ended much too soon. It was a day when bags were packed, questions w...
Published: 05/24/18
Lightning journal: Ryan Callahan, among others, played hurt

Lightning journal: Ryan Callahan, among others, played hurt

TAMPA — Not surprisingly, several Lightning players went through the playoffs with what general manager Steve Yzerman called "significant injuries."He would not elaborate Thursday on who they were, though he said that information will be made p...
Published: 05/24/18
Lightning fans leaving Game 7 early: Understandable or bad form?

Lightning fans leaving Game 7 early: Understandable or bad form?

TAMPA — Lightning fans were heading for the exits with three minutes remaining in Tampa Bay's 4-0 loss to Washington Wednesday in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference final. Understandable given the disappointment of not reaching the Stanley C...
Published: 05/24/18
The single biggest reason Tampa Bay isnít headed to the Stanley Cup final

The single biggest reason Tampa Bay isnít headed to the Stanley Cup final

TAMPA — Washington is on to Vegas. The Lightning is not. So we asked the Times' Lightning coverage team for the single biggest reason Tampa Bay isn't headed to the Stanley Cup final. Here's their answers:Roger Mooney, staff writer: Th...
Published: 05/24/18
Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: Scoring drought brings Lightning season to a close

Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: Scoring drought brings Lightning season to a close

The Lightning will miss out on the Stanley Cup final after being shut out by the Capitals in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference final. The Bolts were the highest-scoring team during the regular season but failed to score in almost all of the final eigh...
Published: 05/24/18
Postgame reactions from Lightningís Game 7 loss to the Capitals

Postgame reactions from Lightningís Game 7 loss to the Capitals

The Lightning was shut out once in the first 97 games of the season, the playoffs included. Then it was shut out during the last two games of the Eastern Conference final, including 4-0 on Wednesday to the Capitals in Game 7.Here are some postgame re...
Published: 05/24/18
Lightning journal: A rare fight to this finish

Lightning journal: A rare fight to this finish

TAMPA — After Alex Ovechkin's goal 62 seconds into Game 7 of the Eastern Conference final Wednesday, the next highlight was an extended fight between Lightning D Braydon Coburn and Capitals RW Tom Wilson, with a two-minute break for them to spe...
Published: 05/23/18
Updated: 05/24/18