His performance this season was disappointing, and yet no one is complaining. His numbers were insufficient, and yet nobody is counting.

It is true Simon Gagne's debut season in Tampa Bay could have included a bit more razzle and a dash of dazzle, but it is still too soon to close the book.

For the way we remember Gagne in Tampa Bay will have more to do with a handful of playoff games in April than the six months of regular-season games that came first.

Forget the $5.25 million contract that is among the highest on the team. And forget the draft pick and the defenseman it cost to bring Gagne to Tampa Bay.

All will be forgiven with the right goal at the right moment.

"What people remember is how you finish the season, and how you do in the playoffs," Gagne said. "That's what it comes down to. Everybody wants the player who can do the job at this time of the season, not at the start of the season. That's the way I see it.

"That's the way I've always looked at my career."

So is this why the Lightning brought Gagne here?

"I think so," he said. "Yeah, I would think so."

It's not that the regular season was insignificant or that Gagne's experience and skill wasn't valued from October to February, but a large part of his appeal was his postseason history with the Flyers.

Gagne, 31, has more playoff goals in his career than Marty St. Louis. He has more than Vinny Lecavalier. Of all the players still on the ice in the NHL, only a dozen or so have scored more than Gagne's 32 career playoff goals.

So while it may have been unrealistic to anticipate anything close to the 40-goal seasons he had in his mid 20s in Philadelphia, there has been a seasonlong expectation that Gagne would show up when it mattered most.