Although the Tampa Bay Lightning didn’t make this season’s playoffs, Steven Stamkos has every intention of making a good first impression by helping lead his country (Canada) to victory.
One week removed from his last game action with the Lightning, Stamkos was more than ready to play Saturday. It showed, as he scored the game-winner in Canada’s 3-1 win over Denmark. That’s really good news considering the season’s final month wasn’t exactly kind to him or his team.
Stamkos started 2013 sizzling hot, even earning NHL First Star of the Month in February. It didn’t last though. March saw his left shoulder get injured, followed by the firing of head coach Guy Boucher who was later replaced by Jon Cooper. The results weren’t much better, with Tampa Bay losing 11 of 14 April games. He also appeared to injure his left knee in the season’s final minute, but luckily was given the go-ahead to participate.
After all that, I’m guessing May served as a fresh start. Now, that’s not to say his late season statistics were god awful because they weren’t. Stamkos’ 29 goals led the Lightning, while his 57 points were second behind teammate and linemate Martin St. Louis who recently captured the Art Ross trophy.
Then again, maybe I’m making too much of things. One good game doesn’t guarantee a championship, but it certainly helps earn ice time, which leads to numerous opportunities.
Either way, Stamkos is key to Canada reclaiming their top spot after losing in the 2012 quarterfinals. Heck, more performances like Saturday’s and he might also be a lock for the 2014 Olympic games.