November 19, 2010

Seen Stamkos, Lately?

Is it fair to call Thursday night's five-point performance by the Tampa Bay Lightning's Steven Stamkos (who got a hat trick, among the five) an explosion, when it seems like his entire start to the season has been an explosion out of the gate? Forget the fact that he now has 19 goals in 19 games this season. Hell, forget the fact that, dating back to late in his rookie season, he has scored 79 goals in 114 games, a 0.69 goal-per-game pace that would give him 57 in an 82-game season... which, coincidentally, is the same pace he set late in that rookie season, when, from March 17, 2009 onward, he netted nine in that year's final 13 games.

"Why would I know anything about hockey? I don't even know anything about hair."
Maybe it's just me, but I'm prepared to go out on a very long limb and say former Lightning head coach Barry Melrose, who limited Stamkos's minutes that year and said after getting fired in November after compiling a 5-7-4 record: "Right now he's just not strong enough physically to play against defensemen who are 6'3" or 6'4" that can skate as good as him" didn't know what he was talking about. Of course, an 82-103-21 coaching record before he took over the reins behind the Lightning bench to start the year might have also served as a good indication of that fact, but what are you going to do, Oren Koules and Len Barrie? Look back to see how successful the candidates to fill your team's head-coaching vacancy have been in the past?

For the record, Stamkos only had four points in those 16 games under Melrose and then went on to score 42 points in 63 games the rest of the way. And, now? Well, 35 points in 19 games. Need I say more? Probably not, but what the hell? Stamkos has arrived, is here to stay, and Melrose, may he never come back.

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