There was one overriding theme for Steven Stamkos during his pursuit of 60 goals: He would much rather his success had propelled the Lightning into the playoffs.

"You trade this stuff in a heartbeat for winning a championship," Stamkos said. "You don't play to score a certain amount of goals or to get individual awards. You play to win a league championship game."

That's a pretty level-headed statement for a 22-year-old. But Stamkos has a frame of reference from which to draw. He played last season into Game 7 of the Eastern Conference final, the most fun he has had playing hockey, he said.

And he certainly has had teammate Marty St. Louis whispering in his ear about how nonplayoff seasons have made him appreciate so much more Tampa Bay's 2004 Stanley Cup run.