Lightning and Stamkos have cooled off

It’s unusual for the Habs to go into Tampa Bay and think of it as a “measuring stick” game for themselves. Usually it’s the other way around. But the Lightning have been one of the best teams in the NHL’s Eastern Conference most of the year.

And yet, Tampa Bay may be coming back down to earth. They’ve been overtaken by the Bruins and slipped to third in the East. The Canadiens’ three straight wins coupled with two losses in a row by the Lightning have moved Montreal to within four points of Tampa Bay headed into Saturday’s game. The Bolts are 4-4-2 in their last 10 after a strong run from Jan 1 to Feb 1 which saw them take 20 of a possible 27 points, including a six game winning streak.

The Lightning offence has hit a dry patch — only six goals in their last four games. They scored eight against Phoenix on Feb. 23, but if you throw that game out, they have only 10 goals in the six games surrounding it.

One reason for their struggles of late is that Steven Stamkos’s production has tapered off. He still leads the league with 41 goals but we’ve hit the time of year when defences begin to tighten and checking becomes closer. In his last 10 games, Stamkos has but one goal. He’s been something of a streaky scorer before — 19 goals in 19 games during one stretch this season; and twice this season has gone six games without a goal.

But this time it’s different. He’s not even getting that many shots on net — just two in the last four games — and it’s not sitting well with him.

“I haven’t been getting the chances, and it’s been tough and it is
definitely frustrating,” Stamkos told Eric Erlendsson of The Tampa Tribune. “This is the times you do worry a little, because you are not getting
the chances. I have to start taking this upon myself
and start generating chances by working hard and concentrating on the
little things.”

Lightning coach Guy Boucher believes Stamkos is passing up chances to shoot, looking for high quality opportunities and passing when he doesn’t see them. He’s encouraging Stamkos to shoot more. Who Jacques Martin deploys against Stamkos tonight and how well they check him may have a big say in the outcome of the game. Damian Christodero in The St. Petersburg Times reports that both Boucher and GM Steve Yzerman have spoken with Stamkos to help boost his confidence.

Regular observers of Lightning games note that another problem for them recently has been their inability to easily gain the offensive zone on the power play. Opponents may have started to figure out a way to stop the Bolts PP in the neutral zone, preventing entries before Stamkos and company can set up shop and he can unleash his deadly one-timers from the faceoff circle.

Still, the Lighting always seem ready for the Habs. The Canadiens have only won once in regulation against Tampa Bay in their last 10 meeting, with TB holding a 6-1-3 record in those games. They are 3-0-2 in their last five at home against the Habs.

As Pat Hickey mentioned in his Gazette story, both Vinny Lecavalier and Marc-Andre Bergeron are questionable for the game. Lecavalier had been playing his best hockey of the season — seven goals (six on the power play) and 12 points in nine games. The Lightning may also be without Steve Downie (ankle). Ryan Malone remains out with an abdominal muscle injury as does defenceman Mike Lundin.

Dwayne Roloson is expected to start in goal.

25 Comments

  1. Habsman93 says:

    hey I’m from Burlington Ont also

  2. Habsman93 says:

    We had one about three yrs ago and maybe 15 people showed up but would be nice to try again

  3. HabinBurlington says:

    Good stuff, love Seinfeld, can relate it to virtually any conversation!  Drives my wife nuts when i do that though.

  4. HabinBurlington says:

    Go Dawgs Go, need to get to a game soon and check out Dawes.  I remember him well from the World Juniors, and always thought he played a tough abrasive game for his size when the rangers played the habs.  Haven’t understood why he has bounced around so much.  Maybe we stumbled on another talented vertically challenged Hab of the Future!

  5. doogie says:

    How about a HIO night in Hamilton?  I’m in! 

  6. HabinBurlington says:

    Yah that has been, got to see alot of the playoff games with Price playing during that calder cup run. 

  7. Hoegarden says:

    Welcome aboard HinB.

    At least you are not far from the Bulldogs….

    CHeers !

  8. HabinBurlington says:

    Cheers!  Will do, living in Ontario has its difficulties, listening to Blue Kool-Aid drinking Leaf fans.  But with the results of the past 6-7 years has been far more tolerable.

  9. daveho29 says:

    Like to see another shutout for Price tonight, with the scoring coming from the Plex, Cammi, Gionta need the points in my hockey pool.

     

    If not a very high scoring game(unlikely) as I also have Stamkos and St Louis. Purely selfish reasons.

  10. samTHEman says:

    3-2 Habs

    Cammalleri – Pacioretty – Subban

    Stamkos (2)

  11. OneTimer says:

    (might as well post it here too) :)

    Habs are training for playoff mode my friend, they’re going to shut down Stamkos the superstar all game. It’s some no-name grinders that are going to score 1 or 2 against the Habs tonight

  12. Danno says:

    Hi there HB! Enjoy the expert analysis and witty repartee!

     

    “Hey Richard, two minutes for looking so good!”

  13. Trenton_Romulox says:

    Welcome to the Habs Inside/Out commentariat. So, from Burlington, Vermont, I presume? 

    Edit: Duh, Burlington, Ontario. My stupid American brain still hasn’t fully switched into Canada mode yet even though I’ve lived here for six months or so. 

  14. SLYDER says:

    as boone put it – ‘welcome to daycare with a liquor liscence

  15. Propwash says:

    Enjoy the HIO Zoo!

  16. HabinBurlington says:

    Hey folks long time reader of this site and dialogue’s, finally joined in.  Good Luck to Habs in TBay tonight!

  17. DLHABSNUT65 says:

     How could you not have your faith in him after the season he’s had so far? Hasn’t he captured the Molson Cup in 4 out of 5 months! Well on his way to 5 for 6 and his name is being tossed around for the Venzina! He’s still only 23….Habs MVP so far this year! Car-ey, Car-ey, Car-ey…..

  18. HalifaxHabs says:

    3 straight wins on the road would be excellent for team confidence… I’m worried about this game, but Carey has been lights out on this trip, so I’m going to put my faith in him again.

    prediction:

    Habs 2

    Bolts 1

    in OT

  19. HabinBurlington says:

    Hopefully we catch a break and Vinny won’t be dressed tonight, but the time is now for this team to get on a roll.  Of course if we give up the first goal, the Count will again recreate the wheel with lines.  Here is to hoping they play well and leave well enough alone.

  20. otter649 says:

    Hopefully The Habs can stay out of the pentalty box which would go a long way in helping to secure another win……….

  21. HalifaxHabs says:

    Yeah boyeeee… can you imagine, that would be sweet!

  22. SLYDER says:

    AK 46 will be tonight’s stamkos

     

    HalifaxHabs forgot to mention AK will score both habs goals

  23. The Teacher says:

    GO HABS GO!

  24. OneTimer says:

    our future, ladies and gentlemen…looks like Gainey and Gauthier were right.

  25. solomio says:

    With Vinny, MAB, Malone & Downy out if the line up this game gets considerably easier for the Habs.

    Stamkos, with Habs luck , wil get hot tonight. P.K.can  handle him I think.

    St Louis will be good for at least one goal.

    TB will not have an answer for Eller,Moen and AK.

    Rolly is a very good goalie.

    If beaches,lawn chairs and golf carts don’t chill the Habs too much we should be witness to a pretty good game with the Habs coming out on top.


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