by Jon Jordan on 03/04/11 at 01:47 PM ET
Sound the alarms.
For the first time all season, the #StamkosMath calculator projects a sub 100-point finish for Tampa Bay Lightning sniper Steven Stamkos at season’s end.
99.9375, to be exact.
The silly little Twitter trend (that once had something like a 91-goal campaign for #91 in its sights) has been a joke all season, of course, but there’s no joking about Stamkos’ struggles of late. Actually, let’s be fair and call them mini-struggles. After all, it is just a three-game scoreless streak and, hell, the kid is human.
The Lightning offense has indeed gone dry, though, with just six tallies in their last four games in total and Stamkos has just produced just one goal in his last 10 – three since the All-Star break.
It happens though, right? To everyone, no?
But what you’ll hear so frequently from hockey folks when the points just aren’t coming, “I may not be scoring but at least I’m getting my chances,” can’t be used here to comfort Stamkos during this downturn.
Not amid talk of losing confidence, passing up shots and failing to generate any offense.
And certainly not when Stamkos has managed just a single shot on goal in the last three games.
The scoreless trifecta in recent roadies in New York, New Jersey and Boston isn’t the first time Stamkos has endured such a lull this season. It’s his third three-game drought of the year and, to his credit, only the fourth time he’s gone two or more games without a single point. But during each of those prior dry spells, Stamkos has still been aggressive in getting pucks to the net and creating chances.
10 shots on goal in a scoreless three-game stretch from December 2nd-7th.
10 again from January 1st-5th.
And nine, combined, in back-to-back goose egg performances in New Jersey on January 9th and at home against Washington three days later.
Yes, it’s been a task for the entire club to find the twine of late and, true, the power play – where Stamkos has put up 31 points this season – has had a hard go of it, 2 for its last 14 and 0-for-11 for a stretch prior to that, before Phoenix came to town and temporarily cured its ills.
But a single shot in three games combined? Eek.
Possible that Stamkos is playing a little banged up? At this point in the year, most probably are so, sure, it’s possible. (And several times already in his young career, Stamkos has played through some nagging pains that may have shelved others.) To be clear, though, there’s no clear indication of anything other than the wear and tear of a long season but you can’t blame anyone for wondering.
Not when we’ve seen such – dare I use the new generation’s catch phrase here? – swagger from Stamkos for so long now, which seems to have disappeared lately.
Really, he hasn’t any reason for a sustained dip in confidence, despite the minor woes of late. A quick glimpse at the league’s scoring leaders still shows him eight goals ahead of anyone else and second in the NHL in points. But it’s far easier to encourage a spark in an individual than it is for the person themselves to feel that jolt once again.
So, what’s the fix?
Keep it simple.
What has stood out about Stamkos this season as opposed to last, even, when he shared “Rocket” Richard honors with Pittsburgh’s Sidney Crosby, has a more dynamic approach to goal-scoring – finding tips, driving to the net, picking up rebound chances, feigning the trademark one-timer as well as seeing that deadly shot through from time-to-time. That ability has made him, for my money, the most dynamic goal-scorer in the league today, even with a healthy Crosby and an Alex Ovechkin on top of his game.
High time, then, to get back to all of that, which is far, far easier said than done.
For now, though, at least there is the simplicity of knowing that this latest trend won’t be bucked until pucks start hitting the opposition net off of Stamkos’ stick again. There are only eight shooters in the Eastern Conference this season who pepper goaltenders more than he does and that strategy, what with the 41 goals and all, clearly works.
But lately, with only one shot in 180 minutes of hockey? Well, that just won’t do.
Granted, nobody’s panicking and no one has any reason to. Besides, the cure for all that aids Steven Stamkos, says recent history, lies in his next opponent, the Montreal Canadiens. After similar cold streaks this season, he’s quickly found his groove again thereafter and to get back the strut that seems so lost right now, all Stamkos has to do is connect a time or two against the Habs on Saturday night.
Self-fulfilling prophecy, of sorts? Score, then you’ll score more?
Maybe. But let’s keep it even more straightforward than that.
Because we all know that goals and points often start with a simple shot.
Time to start firing away again, kid.
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