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.
This video is no longer available. Click here to watch more NBC Sports videos!
Born in Scottsdale, AZ., Auston Matthews has taken the NHL by storm in his rookie season as an elite talent headlining an impressive freshman class.
Taken first overall last June, Matthews made history with four goals in his debut, surely a dizzying experience for Maple Leafs fans accustomed to heartbreak and frustration. And he really hasn’t slowed down since.
On Sunday against the Carolina Hurricanes — and on Hockey Day in America — the 19-year-old Matthews once again put on a show, scoring his 28th goal of the season. That gave Toronto a two-goal lead.
As he’s often done in his brief time in the NHL, this goal was of the spectacular variety, as he broke in off the left wing and, as he was getting hauled down to the ice, slid the puck five-hole on Cam Ward.
Related: Auston Matthews is having a rookie season for the ages
For about a month now, Evander Kane has enjoyed a particularly productive stretch for the Buffalo Sabres.
Kane scored with 5.6 seconds remaining in the first period of Sunday’s game versus the Chicago Blackhawks, converting on a nifty pass from Jack Eichel and going top shelf on Scott Darling.
He now has goals in three straight games, and 15 points in 14 games as the Sabres have fought their way back into the playoff race in the Eastern Conference.
Of course, this latest run comes just before the trade deadline, and Kane’s name has consistently been in speculation about a possible move — in addition to off-ice issues. While GM Tim Murray has said earlier this month that he’s not actively shopping Kane, he also didn’t absolutely rule out trading the 25-year-old left winger, now into his second season in Buffalo.
(Murray: “Is there a crazy deal that somebody could throw at me that would force me to do it? I guess there is.”)
Most impressive about Kane’s numbers — remember he missed time earlier this season with a rib injury and then had a slow start, which drew the ire of the coach — is that he’s done the vast majority of his scoring, 20 of 21 goals, at five-on-five.
The Boston Bruins are back from their bye week, looking to continue a three-game winning streak since Bruce Cassidy took over as head coach from Claude Julien.
The Bruins can extend their streak Sunday, when they visit the San Jose Sharks (8:30 p.m. ET). You can check out the game on NBCSN or online with NBC Sports’ Live Extra.
CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE
Here are some links to check out for tonight’s game:
The NHL’s bye week experiment is still a work in progress
Pre-game reading: Are the Bruins and Avalanche on verge of trade?
Sharks have reason to wait on Thornton, Marleau extensions
Jacob Trouba could be getting a call from the NHL Department of Player Safety for a hit to the head of Ottawa Senators forward Mark Stone.
The incident occurred during the third period of Sunday’s game, as Stone was passing the puck after he entered the zone. Trouba stepped up and delivered a high hit, resulting in only a minor penalty for an illegal check to the head.
Stone, who dealt with a concussion that was reported in September, remained down on the ice before eventually going to the dressing room.
As you can see from the video, Senators coach Guy Boucher was furious officials on the ice decided this was only worth a minor for Trouba.