Monday, March 5, 2012

People Don't Kill the Game, They Stamkos It

By Jason Klau

On a team that has struggled for most of the year, Tampa Bay Lightning Forward Steven Stamkos has been a monster. The 22-year-old Canadian is currently leading the league in goals with 47 - that's 9 more than second-place veteran Evgeni Malkin (the two are tied for first in the NHL total points category with 80).




At the beginning of the season, I picked Tampa to come out of the East, so it came as a surprise to me, and my hockey intelligence, for them to have been out of the playoff picture all season. Star Forward and Captain, Vinny Lecavalier, struggled to keep up his normal pace before going out with an injury that has kept him behind the glass for the last couple of weeks. In his stead, Stamkos has lead the way in bringing the Lightning back into the playoff race. With 18 points over his last nine games, Sir Stamkos is making a serious bid for MVP.

Tampa Bay has won four in a row, with Stamkos notching seven points in that span, including the below embedded OT winner against Carolina on March 3. Winning seven of their last 10, the Bolts have vaulted themselves to just two points out of the final playoff spot, currently held by their division rival Winnipeg Jets, who have played one more game than the Lightning. The Lightning are also six points behind the Florida Panthers for the division lead.



The Bigger Picture
As a Rangers fan, I am pretty confident in my team right now. They have a firm hold on first in the conference, and barring a significant meltdown, they should keep that spot. Should Steven Stamkos and the Tampa Bay Lightning keep this upswing going, and grab the 8th seed going into the playoffs, they could cause the Rangers some first-round problems, though, as Tampa won the season series between the two teams with a 2-1-1 record.

Much like the NBA, in the Stanley Cup Playoffs one player can take over an entire series. If Steven Stamkos rallies his team into the post-season, he can be that player. Watchout NHL.

Jason Klau can be reached by sending an email to sportzbroz@gmail.com

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