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91 days of Stamkos: Day 67, Stamkos and the post-season

Stamkos has played 49 NHL post-season games, and here’s hoping for many more.

Tampa Bay Lightning v New York Rangers - Game Seven Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

Early Career

Steven Stamkos began his post-season career at the age of 9. Not only did he win the OHL Cup with the Markham Waxers in 2006, he also won the Coronation Cup of the Greater Toronto Hockey League in 1999 -- alongside teammate PK Subban. Stats for these games are difficult to find, but let's assume that Stamkos had a big hand in both of these cup victories.

OMHA.net

Sarnia

When Stamkos played with the Sarnia Sting of the OHL in 2006-07 and 2007-08, his two seasons garnered him a total of 13 playoff games played, 14G/3A for 17 points. He scored at a 1.31 points-per-game rate, something that’s difficult to match in the NHL.

In the 2006-07 season, the Sting ended the season fourth (out of five teams) in the West division, and were swept in the first round by the Kitchener Rangers. In the 2007-08 season, the Sting became a better team, ending the season third in their division, but lasting an extra playoff round by defeating the Windsor Spitfires in five games. The Kitchener Rangers again ended the team’s hopes in a sweep in the second round. In this playoff season, Stamkos scored 11 goals, but zero assists.

NHL Playoffs 2011 — Eastern Conference Final

After Stamkos ascended to the NHL in 2008-09, he had to wait two seasons before seeing the playoffs again. 2010-11 was his first playoff season with the Lightning, and the run was deep. The team ended the regular season with 103 points, fifth overall in the east, and met the fourth-seeded Pittsburgh Penguins in the first round. The series went to seven games, with a L-W-L-L-W-L-W record. Stamkos had the distinction of scoring his first-ever NHL post-season goal in game 5, an 8-2 rout of the Penguins.

In round 2, Tampa swept the Washington Capitals in four games. Stamkos scored the game-winning goal in the first game of the series. In round 3, Tampa lost to the eventual Stanley Cup-winning Boston Bruins in game 7.

This game was also notable because Stamkos broke his nose in the final game of the Bolts’ season, but returned to battle out the loss anyway. "I don't really remember taking the puck to the face as much as I remember losing," Stamkos told the Tampa Bay Times. "That's a tough one."

In 18 games played, Stamkos scored 6G/7A for 13 points.

NHL Playoffs 2014 — First round

Tampa earned 101 points in the regular season for second overall in the Atlantic, a combination of Guy Boucher's last games behind the Lightning bench and Jon Cooper's first NHL season. Stamkos scored the game-tying goal of game 1, but Dale Weise won it in OT. Tampa got swept in four games by the Montreal Canadiens, but none of that was on Stamkos' conscience -- he had a playoff point-per-game ratio of 1.00.

In four games played, Stamkos scored 2G/2A for 4 points.

NHL Playoffs 2015 — Stanley Cup Final

This was the Bolts’ deepest playoff run since their 2004 Stanley Cup victory. The team took the Chicago Blackhawks to a solid six games before luck and health petered out, and then we had to read some of the saddest sports writing that's ever been written about the team. But before Stamkos said his beautiful and heartbroken final words to end of one of the best seasons of Tampa Bay Lightning hockey, he did a solid job of leading the Bolts to that point, despite a goal drought that lasted until game 2 against Montreal.

There were so many heroic moments in this series that it deserves its own article, but my favorite has to be when Stamkos faced down a bunch of reporters at Madison Square Garden and said that despite never losing a game 7, Henrik Lundqvist had never met the Tampa Bay Lightning in a game 7.

In the words of the National Post:

Yes, the New York Rangers were a perfect 7-0 in at Madison Square Garden in Game 7 situations. And yes, Henrik Lundqvist was also 6-0 with a 0.97 goals-against average in his last Game 7s. But as Steven Stamkos scoffed, “He’s never played the Tampa Bay Lightning in a Game 7 before.”

After reading rhetoric such as this, the series victory was all the sweeter.

In 26 games played en route to the final defeat at the hands of the Blackhawks, Stamkos scored 7G/11A for 18 points.

NHL Playoffs 2016 — Eastern Conference Final

There are few video highlights of Stamkos from last season’s run because Stamkos played in exactly one game of it, the game 7 loss to the eventual cup-winning Pittsburgh Penguins. Diagnosed with a blood clot before the 81st game of the season against the New Jersey Devils, Stamkos had a rib removed before the post-season began to alleviate the strain.

The team won two playoff series without him, but when the Eastern Conference Final went to a Game 7, Stamkos was determined, win or lose, to play with his team. In his one game played, Stamkos had an almost-goal — a valiant effort that might have turned the tide of the series and the game.

Bolts did not win this time. But the best part of Stamkos’ long contract is that there’s a very great chance that we’ll see him in the playoffs again, and hopefully soon.