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91 Days of Stamkos: Day 79, Stamkos and The Toronto Maple Leafs

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A reader asks how Stamkos has fared against his hometown team. The answer is not shocking.

NHL: Tampa Bay Lightning at Toronto Maple Leafs Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

As this series winds to a close (and Steven Stamkos edges closer to a return to the ice, hopefully) we at Raw Charge want to make sure that we have covered everything that you, our readers, would like to know about the Lightning captain. So, we recently solicited ideas for the next few posts on Twitter and KJ (@Biker4Bolts) came up with a good idea:

There is no doubt that Stamkos loves the Toronto area. Prior to the World Cup this season he told the Toronto Sun, “It’s not like I don’t love Toronto. I come back every summer and enjoy being there and being around the people I grew up with. It has a special place in my heart.”

Stamkos likes playing against the Toronto Maple Leafs. More importantly, Stamkos likes scoring against the Maple Leafs. There is a chance that one reason he didn’t sign with the Leafs is that if he played for them, he wouldn’t be able to score against them.

To date, in 31 career games against them, Stamkos has scored 18 goals and added 20 assists. His 1.22 points-per-game average against Toronto is the second best PPG/A among teams he’s played more than 25 times. Only Atlanta/Winnipeg is higher at 1.38.

He has also scored five game-winning goals against Toronto. That is tied for second behind the five he has against Florida. He also has five game winning goals against Buffalo, so that’s a combined 10 for the Greater Toronto Viewing Area. Stamkos would probably be glad if a team is moved to Hamilton — that’s more game-winning goals for him.

In his first game in Toronto after he scorned them by re-signing in Tampa, he had the best game of his injury-shortened season by scoring two goals and assisting on two others in a 7-3 beatdown on October 25th. Steve Dangle did not handle it well:

Was there some motivation in scoring in his return to Toronto?

“I love this city and the people here. But, yeah, it does motivate you,” he told the press following the game. While the crowd didn’t boo him mercilessly, more of a token, “Hey, this guy kind of turned us down, we should probably do something” type of heckling, it was more than enough to light an extra fire under Stamkos. By the way, this was also the game that led to the greatest GIF in Lightning history.

Not that he needs motivation to score multiple points against Toronto. Eleven times he’s recorded two or more points against the Maple Leafs, which is impressive considering they’ve held him pointless only eight times.

One of those 8 games without a point was probably his worst game in Toronto. It was also the last time he played there prior to his free agency summer. On March 15th, 2016 the Lightning lost 4-1. Stamkos finished a -3 and had 2 penalties.

On a better note, Stamkos does have a hat trick against the Maple Leafs. On March 19th, 2014 he completed a natural hat trick by scoring twice in the first period and once in the second to help the Lightning beat Toronto 5-3. It was the seventh 3-goal game of his career

“I was pretty excited I could do it in front of friends and family, “ he told the Tampa Bay Times, “I was a little disappointed there were no hats on the ice, but I’ll take it.”

There is a small chance that Stamkos could break Maple Leaf fans’ hearts one more time before this season ends. The Lightning and the Leafs meet one more time this year, on April 6th. It is conceivable that Stamkos is in the lineup at that point and that both teams are still fighting for a wild card spot. Wouldn’t it just be the best if a Stamkos game-winning goal knocks his hometown team out of the playoffs?