The Wraparound: Can Stamkos break loose for Lightning in Game 5?

The Wraparound is your daily look at the 2021 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs. We’ll break down the NHL playoff games today with the all-important television and live streaming information included.

If you look at Steven Stamkos‘ overall playoff stats, you’d think everything is fine. During the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs, Stamkos has scored five goals and nine assists for 14 points in 15 games.

Perfectly fine pace for Stamkos. Particularly since there’s a solid chance he headed ino the postseason less than 100 percent.

But Stamkos’ recent slump is a cause for concern. As great as Nikita Kucherov and especially Brayden Point have been for the Lightning, the Bolts could sure use more help against the Islanders in Game 5 on Monday (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN / Peacock), and going forward.

[NBC 2021 STANLEY CUP PLAYOFF HUB]

Over the last five playoff games, Stamkos hasn’t scored a single goal. During that span, Stamkos has only mustered a single assist, which came during a power play.

Not ideal. When Stamkos struggles to score, it makes mistakes like these hurt that much more:

Maybe most troublingly, Stamkos really hasn’t generated a ton of chances, at least with his world-renowned shot. So far in this series, Stamkos generated five shots on goal through four games. Since the Second Round, Stamkos fired two shots on goal twice, one SOG six times, and went without a shot once.

Could it be that Stamkos simply isn’t healthy, and maybe hasn’t truly been all season? Even during the regular season, Stamkos was less trigger-happy than usual, averaging about 2.4 shots on goal per night. (For his career, he’s averaged a more robust 3.07 SOG per game.)

He’s been used fairly sparsely, too. That was most glaring in Game 4, where Stamkos logged just 12:05 TOI, yet it’s true for the larger postseason run overall (15:53 TOI average).

[NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs 2021 schedule, TV info]

Earlier in the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs, it was easier to shrug off certain red flags with Stamkos. Simply put, he was still scoring. After generating eight points over six games in that back-and-forth series vs. the Panthers, Stamkos found a way to collect five points in as many games against the Hurricanes.

Maybe the key is simple-if-stupid: just feed him some power play chances? Stamkos has been living off of that prolific power play lately, as he’s generated five of his last six points on the man advantage.

At this point in his career, Stamkos might not be as likely to “assert his will” on play. So, perhaps if the Lightning can play their game against the Islanders, Stamkos’ shots and scoring will come with it?

“It wasn’t them, it was us — it’s always us,” Mikhail Sergachev said of the Lightning’s Game 4 efforts vs. the Islanders. “When we’re on the top of our game, playing our structure, and guys are battling, I don’t think there’s anyone that can play with us.”

Lately, it doesn’t seem like Stamkos has been at the top of his game. The Lightning might not need his best, but it sure looks like they’ll need more from him than what we’ve seen the last few games.

MONDAY’S NHL PLAYOFF SCHEDULE

Game 5: Islanders at Lightning, 8 p.m. ET (Series tied 2-2) – NBCSN / Peacock (livestream)

TUESDAY’S NHL PLAYOFF SCHEDULE

Game 5: Canadiens at Golden Knights, 9 p.m. ET (Series tied 2-2) – NBCSN / Peacock (livestream)

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

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