Steven Stamkos was the first to break out. Then came Marty St. Louis and Teddy Purcell. By the time the Lightning's 4-3 shootout victory against the Blackhawks ended on Wednesday, all the players they count on most to score had seemingly broken out of their individual scoring slumps. All, that is, except for one - Simon Gagne. For Gagne, a two-time 40-goal scorer who was brought in this past offseason to give the Lightning a second scoring line, the head-scratching struggle to score continues. He has not scored in six games and has one goal in his past 16. He has 10 goals in 48 games overall. "It just seems like the puck doesn't want to go in as much as it used to," Gagne said. Gagne might have reason to fret if he were the only one mired in a drought, but he's not. Before they scored on Wednesday, Stamkos had just one goal in 12 games, St. Louis four in 16 games and Purcell none in six games. The only consistent goal-scorer for the Lightning lately is Vinny Lecavalier. He has three goals in his past seven games but, with 16 goals this season, is hardly a threat to contend for the Rocket Richard Trophy. Stamkos is a contender for that award, given annually to the league's top goal-scorer, and with 42 goals - eight more than his nearest competitor - stands a good chance of winning it. But Gagne believes that race holds a clue that could unlock the mystery behind his and other goal-scorers' recent struggles. "If you look at that race, you have Stammer with (42) goals and I believe he can get to 50," Gagne said. "But after that, I'm not sure if anybody else in the race will even get to 40. "The last time you saw something like that was before we came back from the (2004-05) lockout, so I wonder if we've kind of gone back to where we used to be where the game was so much tighter defensively. I know the games we have been playing lately are definitely tighter. It's playoff-like hockey and the (scores) are 2-1 a lot of times, and that's after going to a shootout."
Gagne still mired in offensive funk
Tampa Tribune | Mar 11