In what was an emotional week for the Tampa Bay Lightning, seasoned veterans Steven Stamkos and Martin St. Louis came up huge, thus helping their team climb back into the postseason hunt.
For that very reason, I’ve chosen to honor both as the Lightning’s player of this past week.
Stamkos got things started, scoring a goal and peppering Ondrej Pavelec in Tampa Bay’s close 3-2 loss against the Winnipeg Jets to begin life without Guy Boucher.
Then, with the Lightning going a bit cold offensively, he provided a goal and assisted on St. Louis’ game-winner versus the Buffalo Sabres. That helped end an extremely tough day on a positive note, as that morning players learned former assistant coach Wayne Fleming had lost his battle with brain cancer.
Following Tuesday night’s hard-fought win, Tampa Bay transitioned into the Jon Cooper era. Not surprisingly, Stamkos felt the pressure to make his new coach proud and delivered, producing two goals and the primary assist on Alex Killorn‘s shot which tied things up late in regulation. That set the stage for a somewhat ironic ending, considering this game ended the same way Thursday’s first practice did, with Victor Hedman again celebrating after beating the legendary Martin Brodeur to help Cooper win his big league coaching debut.
Meanwhile, St. Louis had one assist in every game this past week and also fired one past Buffalo’s Ryan Miller. Of course, it had to help that he and Stamkos talked before this game about how they needed to impress their new coach.
Now, as we flip to a new week beginning Tuesday night at home versus the Florida Panthers, let’s hope these guys continue contributing while also receiving some help. If that happens, the Lightning could find themselves in a playoff spot once April ends.