You could say Steven Stamkos has gone dry at the absolutely wrong time… but that wouldn’t necessarily be true.
Sure, the former 60-goal scorer and reliable sniper hasn’t scored yet in the Stanley Cup Final, four games in. And yes, he insists he’s gone through slumps before, although the evidence doesn’t really back that up – Stamkos has scored 157 goals in 249 games since 2011, an incredible clip in today’s NHL. Plus, the Lightning are doing just fine against the two-time champion Chicago Blackhawks, tied at two games apiece heading back to Florida for tonight’s Game 5.
But it’s still a little unnerving to hardly hear Stamkos’s name called when the red light goes off.
Read: ‘Vasilevskiy ready for Stanley Cup spotlight‘ by Stephen Whyno (via SurreyLeader.com)
“As long as you’re getting the chances, you start worrying when you’re not getting the chances, when you start cheating the game, when you start waiting for bounces,” the 25-year-old said Thursday, well into his first-ever Stanley Cup Final. “It’s tough, you want to help your team. That’s the thing you want to do at this time of the year.
“For me, obviously, the offence is the thing that people expect, and that I expect. Hopefully you just stick with it, and it comes.”
It would be tempting to wonder if the Lightning might have swept by now, if Stamkos was scoring. Or Tyler Johnson for that matter – Tampa’s second-line centre has just one goal in the Final’s first four games, and has cooled off offensively after lighting the earth ablaze with eight goals in the first two rounds.
But Chicago’s stars have been mostly dry, as well. Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane – who carried much of the Blackhawk’s load up-front against the Anaheim Ducks – have combined for just one goal in the series. Toews opened the scoring in Game 4, while Kane – who won the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP in 2013 – has just one assist in the series so far.
Many thought the Lightning/Blackhawks series would be a race to the top of the mountain, with the belt dangling above the cage. Instead, it’s been a mirror matchup between two similarly-built teams, where the forwards have cancelled each other out and the goalies are deciding every period.
Video above by The Canadian Press
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