The Lightning can't hit with runners on. The Rays need better goaltending. Wait, that's wrong. I'm getting our lousy local teams confused. Back to the Bolts, and something I just can't get out of my head: Tampa Bay's Steven Stamkos and Marty St. Louis - or Marty St. Louis and Steven Stamkos - might finish 1-2 in scoring in the NHL. This has to be a practical joke, right? No, it is not. Nor is this: Rays hitting coach Derek Shelton can now be seen in a video endorsing a training bat called the “Speed Hitter,” which Shelton promises will make you “the best hitter you can be.” The Lightning are buried, no chance at the playoffs, but they might have the top two scorers, provided Sidney Crosby, currently first, but injured, stays on the shelf and Stamkos and St. Louis, tied at three points back of Crosby, keep motoring. What a waste. It speaks to this season. Tampa Bay is third in hockey in scoring, and has nothing to show for it entering tonight's game in Montreal. The Lightning are the only team in the NHL that has scored more goals than it has allowed without being a postseason contender. Plus, Stamkos trails only Alex Ovechkin in goals, 28-27, so there's a chance Stamkos could lead the NHL in goals for the third time in four years, oh, and not be in the playoffs any of those three times. Nice. If this doesn't haunt this franchise, nothing will. Maybe this is best, no illusions, start over, get the high draft pick. Only I don't buy that. There's hardly ever anything good about not making the playoffs. I mean, there's finishing last, I suppose, getting that No. 1 pick. But Stamkos was just that … and what have the Lightning done with it? For historical comparison, let's look at other seasons where a single team has produced the top two scorers. It has happened 13 times since the NHL expanded before the 1967-68 season, and not once have any of those 1-2s not been on a playoff team. Not until now, maybe. Granted, this is a strike-shortened season. And many of those 1-2s played for juggernauts — Esposito-Orr with the Bruins in the '70s, Gretzky-Kurri or Gretzky-Coffey for the Oilers of the '80s or Lemieux-Jagr for the Penguins of the early '90s, multiple Cup winners all. And here's Stammer and Marty, atop a dead horse.
Wasted seasons for Bolts' Stamkos, St. Louis
Tampa Tribune | Apr 18