With 172 goals in his first 318 career regular season games, 22-year-old star Steven Stamkos seems primed to finish his career among the NHL’s greatest goal scorers. He already grabbed a piece of Tampa Bay Lightning franchise history in the process.
After fanning on a shot, Stamkos made no mistake about his second attempt, beating a hopeless Ilya Bryzgalov with just .6 seconds left in the second period of tonight’s 5-3 win to earn his league-leading 53rd goal of 2011-12. Stamkos isn’t just beefing up his Maurice Richard Trophy lead, though, as that tally gave him the Lightning’s single season goal-scoring record.
It seems fitting that Stamkos broke Vincent Lecavalier’s record (52 goals set in 2006-07) because in many ways, the 22-year-old has been the kind of player worthy of the hype that Lecavalier carried into the NHL.
That’s not to take away from Lecavalier’s own work, but Stamkos is shaping up to be the best center the club’s ever employed. (Beating out Martin St. Louis as the best overall forward would be an even bigger challenge, however, as the small winger has put up fantastic seasons even when Vinny and the rest of the team has been disappointing.)
Stamkos’ 53rd tally came on the power play, yet he’s made it clear that he can score more than just the faceoff circle one-timer that admittedly remains a fearsome play. Only 11 of his tallies have come on the man advantage this season, which provides evidence that Stamkos’ offensive game has plenty of dimensions.
That’s great news for a Bolts franchise that needs it and a scary thought for all the teams who must fathom the thought of dealing with 10 or more years of dangerous Stamkos snipes.
Stamkos seemed primed to go toe-to-toe with Sidney Crosby for the Maurice Richard Trophy last season, but things fell apart for both players. Crosby had injury issues while Stamkos fought lesser ailments and inconsistency to “settle” for 45 goals in 2010-11. The talented sniper’s career-high is 51, which he set in 09-10, just his second season in the NHL. Overall, Stamkos has 169 goals in just 312 career regular season games.
Corey Perry was the only player to cross the 50-goal barrier last season and it’s hard to fathom this season generating multiple 50-goal scorers either. Here’s a look at the rest of the top five:
Evgeni Malkin: 38 goals, 14 games left
Marian Gaborik: 34 goals, 13 games left
Corey Perry: 34 goals, 13 games left
Phil Kessel: 34 goals, 12 games left
I hate to be the guy to doubt that elite club of talented players, but it’s tough to imagine anyone else ending up with 50 goals or more this season.
Pessimists might point to that fact while worrying about league-wide scoring, yet that only shines a brighter light on Stamkos’ all-world (and downright historic) sniping skills.
Corey Perry, Daniel Sedin and Martin St. Louis named Hart Trophy finalists; Who wins?
There are plenty of awards to shoot for in the NHL, but the Hart Trophy is easily the biggest. It’s the league’s MVP award, so reading its list of winners is a quick guide to the players who sat atop the NHL in a given season.
The NHL announced the top three nominees for the 2010-11 season: Anaheim Ducks winger Corey Perry, Vancouver Canucks forward Daniel Sedin and Martin St. Louis of the Tampa Bay Lightning. Here’s a quick rundown of their superlative seasons.
Perry: No doubt about it, Perry had the hottest second half of any player in the NHL, scoring 19 goals in his final 16 games. The divisive Ducks winger was the only person to reach the 50-goal plateau this season, earning himself the Maurice Richard Trophy in the process. One interesting category that sets him apart from Daniel Sedin – his main competition for the MVP trophy – is time on ice. Perry was second among forwards with an average of 22:18 minutes on ice, including 1:38 of shorthanded time. That’s almost four more minutes per game than Sedin’s 18:38 total and six seconds of shorthanded time per game.
If you judge value by how much a player is used, Perry wins that margin by a substantial amount.
Sedin: Perry has his pluses, but Sedin’s +30 was the second highest plus/minus total among NHL forwards. He also lead the NHL in the all-important points category, taking home the Art Ross Trophy with 104 points (five more than St. Louis and six more than Perry). He was also the best player on the best team in the NHL. The question is: will voters allow him to match his twin Henrik Sedin, who won the Hart last season (as you can see from this post’s main photo, by the way)?
St. Louis: The Lightning’s pint-sized star is the dark horse of this race, but that shouldn’t camouflage another outstanding season by St. Louis. He finished second in the league in scoring with 99 points, getting stronger while his much-ballyhooed linemate Steven Stamkos sagged. That’s the thing about St. Louis, though. While Tampa Bay hits peaks and valleys, he’s almost always a world-class player and person.
So now that you’re caught up to speed about the three finalists, tell us which player you think is most deserving. Should it be the polarizing (and pulverizing) force in Perry, the scoring leader in Sedin or the undersized brilliance of St. Louis? Let us know by voting in the poll and sharing your thoughts in the comments.