A 40-goal season is quite the achievement even in a standard 82-game season in the National Hockey League. Steven Stamkos has reached the 40-goal plateau in each of his last three seasons, including 51 in 2009-10 and 60 during the 2011-12 season. So the real question is ‘can he reach 40 goals for the fourth straight year in a shortened season of only 48 games?’
I think he can. Although he would have to keep a steady pace throughout the remainder of the season, I believe that if any player in the league can do it, it’s Stamkos. Stamkos, who leads the league with 163 goals since the start of the 2009-10 season, currently has seven goals so far this season in ten games. Stamkos is goalless in his last two contests, but one has to assume that if he can stay healthy, then he will get his fair share of multi-goal games to counteract those goalless games. Because Stamkos had been on fire prior to Tampa Bay’s last two contests at Philadelphia and New Jersey, recording goals in five straight games, these last two games have seemed like a drought for Stamkos, a statement that would seem ludicrous if we were talking about almost any other player in the league.
A huge reason why I believe that this feat is possible is because of the early success of the Lightning’s power play, not to mention the fact that Stamkos is an integral part of the power play, with much of their first unit running through him. Tampa Bay is currently second in the NHL in power play percentage, trailing only the St. Louis Blues, netting 13 goals on the power play already in just ten games played.
The chemistry of Tampa Bay’s first line has also been outstanding early this season. With Stamkos playing on the top line with veteran forwards Martin St. Louis and Ryan Malone, they will factor in to be crucial components of whether or not Stamkos can achieve the improbable feat of 40 goals in 48 games. Due to the power play and offensive lines clicking, the Lightning are first in the NHL in goals per game with 4.2.
We will have a more realistic outlook in about ten to fifteen games regarding whether or not Stamkos will have a chance to reach the 40-goal plateau. However, I think that he’s in a good spot if he can stay healthy to achieve the nearly impossible. After all, if Stamkos couldn’t do it, then who could?
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