On Monday, the NHL released their first “Three Stars of the Week” award and a familiar name popped up. Captain Steven Stamkos nabbed the third star with his two-goal, three-assist performance in the Tampa Bay Lightning’s season opening series against Chicago. The five points places Stamkos among the top scorers during the early portion of the season.
Coming into the year, there was a bit of a question mark about how he would fair in the shortened season. Off-season surgery coupled with the loss of his long time running mate, Nikita Kurcherov, lent a bit of concern as to how he would rebound this season.
Through two games, it appears he’s rolling right along. On opening night he picked up three points, including a goal from his office:
He was back the next game with another assist and goal, this time on a quick wrister off of the rush as the Lightning polished off the Hawks, 5-2. Of his five points two (one goal, one assist) were on the power play with the other three coming at even strength. This is the exact type of production everyone was hoping for to help the Lightning overcome Kucherov’s absence due to a hip injury.
Stamkos’ core muscles must be feeling pretty good because he isn’t hesitating to take shots with nine of them through the first two games. His linemates have done an excellent job of setting him up in the spots where he likes to take shots - the left circle.
For Stamkos it’s the continuation of a dominating run of play that began at the end of last season. Despite dealing with the core issues for at least a portion of the season he had put together a steak of fifteen straight games with at least one point. During that stretch, which lasted from mid-January to the end of February, he accumulated 12 goals and 10 assists.
At that point he was pulled from the line-up as the injury became too much to play with. Surgery and recovery kept him out of action except for one memorable night - Game Six. A second surgery in the off-season sidelined him for the first part of the fall, but he recovered in time for training camp and it seems he’s suffering no ill effects.
This is the thirteenth time he’s been named a Star of the Week by the NHL in his career (four first stars, six second stars, and three third stars). The last time the NHL recognized him with this honor was almost a year ago when he was named as the second star for the week of February 2nd, 2020.