Lightning give Stamkos the 'A'

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stamkos.jpgI’ve heard of sophomore slumps, but what happens when a disappointing rookie year gives way to an outstanding second season? Is it a sophomore bump?

Regardless, Steven Stamkos is the poster child for such a season. He posted a new Tampa Bay Lightning record when he scored at least one point in 18 straight games. His 42 goals ranks third in the NHL, only behind Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin.

The honors don’t stop there, though, because Stamkos recently became an alternate captain for the Lightning (even if it’s only temporary). Brian Landman of the St. Petersburg Times has more on the decision.

… Stamkos has proven not to be your usual youngster. He entered the game against the Capitals tied with St. Louis for the team lead in scoring (82 points). He set a franchise a record for consecutive games with a point (18) this month.

“It’s a little unusual, but I do think that with his overall growth and leadership, he deserves it,” coach Rick Tocchet said. “He’s done the right things, especially the last two months, to earn it -playing hurt; doing all the right things that leaders do.”

Tampa Bay’s choice continues a recent trend of young players taking symbolic leadership roles. Sidney Crosby became the youngest captain to hoist the Stanley Cup last summer. Jonathan Toews and Alex Ovechkin are more than just figureheads on their teams.

Really, though, this isn’t exactly rocket science. With the obstruction era in the dust, younger players are once again able to show their elite talents. We can talk all we want about “character” but ultimately a team’s best talent usually ends up “leading” them.

So the real story (to me at least) is that the learning curve for young forwards keeps getting smaller. That has to be good news for the Islanders, Oilers and other lottery teams. Toronto? Not so much.

Dropping like flies: Johnson, Killorn hurt in Bolts’ exhibition

Montreal Canadiens v Tampa Bay Lightning - Game One
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You probably know the drill: injury updates are murky in the NHL basically from the moment a puck drops.

We’ll learn more once the 2015-16 season begins, but at the moment, Saturday might have served as a costly night for the Tampa Bay Lightning. Both Tyler Johnson and Alex Killorn went down with injuries stemming from a 3-2 pre-season win against the Florida Panthers.

“Guys were dropping like flies,” Steven Stamkos told the Tamba Bay Times.

These could be minor situations – just about any ailment will sideline a key asset this time of year – yet one cannot help but wonder if the Lightning might limp into this campaign.

Nikita Kucherov is dealing with his own issues, so that means at least minor issues for one half of the Bolts’ top six forwards.

It’s believed that more will be known about these banged-up Bolts sometime on Sunday.

Raffi Torres gets match penalty for being Raffi Torres

Raffi Torres

With knee issues still limiting him, Raffi Torres isn’t as mobile as he once was. Apparently he still moves well enough to leave the usual path of destruction.

It’s the pre-season, so it’s unclear if we’ll get a good look at the check, but Torres received a match penalty for his hit on Anaheim Ducks forward Jakob Silfverberg.

Most accounts were pretty critical of the San Jose Sharks’ chief troublemaker:

It’s too early to tell if Silfverberg is injured. If he is, that’s a significant loss for the Ducks, as he really showed signs of fulfilling his promise (especially during the 2015 playoffs).

As far as Torres goes, he’s hoping to play in the Sharks’ season-opener. Wherever he ends up, he’ll certainly make plenty of enemies on the ice.

Whether it was because of that hit or just the general distaste shared by those sides, it sounds like tonight’s Sharks – Ducks exhibition is getting ugly, in general:

This post will be updated if video of the hit becomes available, and also if we get a better idea of Silfverberg’s condition.

Update: Bullet dodged?