It’s been an interesting three-year ride for Tampa Bay Lightning sniper Steven Stamkos.
He came into the league with the Lightning PR team pushing a “Seen Stamkos?” ad campaign that became a punchline when Barry Melrose gave him limited ice time in his brief run as the team’s head coach. That rookie campaign was a bit of letdown overall as Stamkos scored just 46 points, but he picked up steam toward the end.
Stamkos truly arrived in 2009-10, when he scored a career-high 95 points while scoring 24 power-play goals. It seemed like he would have an even better run this season, as he was the only player who seemed capable of sticking with Sidney Crosby during the center’s torrid first half run. Many reasonably expected Stamkos to take over the Hart Trophy race once Crosby went down with his concussion issues, but Stamkos struggled after the All-Star Break. After scoring 67 points in his first 51 games, he had 24 in his last 31 games. Most disturbing was the goal-scoring plummet he experienced; Stamkos scored notched scored just seven goals in his last 31 games after notching 38 in the first 51 contests.
Those aren’t atrocious numbers for a normal player, but for a budding star like Stamkos, it’s a disturbing struggle. Part of what makes Stamkos so promising is his willingness to fight through slumps, though. He has five goals and four assists for nine points in 14 playoff games, a solid output in his first playoff year.
The following video covers the ups and downs of his first three years in the NHL, with commentary from Stamkos and his partner in crime, Martin St. Louis.
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Following his stunning 41-game suspension, it looks like Raffi Torres has at least one former teammate in his corner.
We haven’t yet seen how the San Jose Sharks or the NHLPA are reacting to the league’s hammer-dropping decision to punish Torres for his Torres-like hit on Jakob Silfverberg, but Jason Demers decided to put in a good word for Torres tonight.
It was a simple message: “#FreeTorres.”
Demers, now of the Dallas Stars, was once with Torres and the Sharks. (In case this post’s main image didn’t make that clear enough already.)
Perhaps this will become “a thing” at some point.
So far, it seems like it’s instead “a thing (that people are making fun of).”
… You get the idea.
The bottom line is that there are some who either a) blindly support Torres because they’re Sharks fans or b) simply think that the punishment was excessive.
The most important statement came from the Department of Player Safety, though.
Those who feel as though the Boston Bruins may rebound – John Tortorella, maybe? – likely rest some of their optimism on the back of a healthy Zdeno Chara.
It’s possible that he’s merely limping into what may otherwise be a healthy 2015-16 season, but it’s definitely looking like a slow start thanks to a lower-body injury.
The latest sign of a bumpy beginning came on Monday, as several onlookers (including CSNNE.com’s Joe Haggerty) pointed out that Chara was listed on injured reserve.
As Haggerty notes, that move is retroactive to Sept. 24, so his status really just opens up options for the Bruins.
Still … it’s a little unsettling, isn’t it?
The Bruins likely realize that they need to transition away from their generational behemoth, but last season provided a stark suggestion that may not be ready yet. Trading Dougie Hamilton and losing Dennis Seidenberg to injury only make them more dependent on the towering 38-year-old.
This isn’t really something to panic about, yet it might leave a few extra seats open on the Bruins’ bandwagon.