It was troublesome for Tampa Bay Lightning when captain Steven Stamkos had just three assists through the first eight postseason games.
The slow start seems all but a distant memory now. Stamkos has returned to form, scoring seven goals and 14 points in the past 10 games. His latest triumph came in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Final, when the forward tallied the insurance goal, on the power play, in the Lightning’s 2-0 win over the New York Rangers. He also assisted on Valtteri Filppula’s opening marker.
The Markham, Ontario, native registered his fourth 40-goal season in 2014-15, helping his team take the second seed in the Atlantic Division. This was just one season after the Lightning finished in the same position, yet were swept in the first round by the Montreal Canadiens. Although Stamkos amassed two goals and four points in the series, the Canadiens were too much to handle for the young Lightning squad.
Stamkos and the Lightning exacted revenge a year later. Tampa Bay jumped out to a 3-0 lead, with Stamkos registering his first goal of the playoffs in Game 2. He later scored the series-clinching goal in Game 6, sending the Lightning to the Eastern Conference Final for second time in five seasons.
It is this series that Stamkos has truly come alive. In the five games, Stamkos has scored in every game since the second contest for a total of seven points in the series. He seems to have taken over the Lightning offense, along with Tyler Johnson, and looks more comfortable as the Lightning’s leader than he ever has.
The Rangers will need to find a way to slow the prolific player if they expect to force a Game 7.
Take a look at the rest of the NHL headlines on the American Memorial Day.
Confidence is behind Stamkos’ resurgence. [Puck Daddy]
Dan Girardi believes the Rangers do not need to panic in Game 6. [The Score]
Corey Perry has been a nuisance for the Blackhawks. [Edmonton Journal]
Bruce Boudreau is considering some lineup changes for Game 5. [Pro Hockey Talk]
The Ducks and Rangers have proved you don’t need a full rebuild to become great. [Globe & Mail]
10 thoughts from the conference finals. [Grantland]
Devils ask for permission to speak with Dan Bylsma. [Today’s Slapshot]
Could the Red Wings still be in pursuit of Dion Phaneuf? [MLive]