A couple of days ago, Steven Stamkos downplayed his goal totals and the Rocket Richard trophy chase in an article for the Tampa Tribune / TBO:
"This year, the team is right in the (playoff) mix and you want to help the team win, and to me that's by producing and scoring goals and creating offensive chances," he said. "If (50 goals) comes, it comes, but at the end of the day I want to be in the playoffs and that's something I haven't experienced yet, so that's the main goal."
Now, let me say that I'm all for team-first thinking and the grand scheme over individual accomplishments. The playoffs are so much more important than a single player repeating a milestone.
But take a look at some numbers: Since Steven Stamkos scoring drought started, using February 8th as the starting date (as he has 3 goals in 19 games since then), the Lightning have gone 6-7-6. In the 3 games Stamkos has scored in, the Bolts are 2-0-1. When his individual plus / minus from that stretch is totaled up, Stamkos's a minus-14. Averaged out, he's about minus-1 per game during that span.
Which brings me to a point: Last season, after the woeful stretch from mid February until late March, the Bolts rallied around their colleague's goal scoring chase. I hope readers remember that. The Lightning went 6-4-0 in their final 10 games; Stamkos finished the year with 51 goals (the final one scored on an empty net against the Panthers in Sunrise) and was the co-recipient of the 2010 Rocket Richard trophy with Sidney Crosby.
But here's the aspect that really makes this relevant: they, the team, rallied around him. They worked for him. They worked for it. Right now, what is the Lightning working for? Playoff seeding doesn't seem to be motivational, nor does self-respect for that matter with some of the sloppiness that we've seen the past few games.
There are nine contests left in the regular season. Steven Stamkos NHL-leading 43 goals is in jeopardy, as he leads Daniel Sedin and Corey Perry by a scant 3 goals. He's nine points behind Sedin for the NHL lead in points, too.
It's time to rally again. It's time to realize there is urgency in turning things around - or else the team is going to piss away its first playoff berth in four years. It's time for Steven Stamkos to lead offensively again, and for team to support him in order to support themselves.