How Tiny Martin St. Louis Is Still Outperforming NHL Giants at Age 37

Steve Silverman@@profootballboyFeatured ColumnistApril 15, 2013

TAMPA, FL - APRIL 09:  Winger Martin St. Louis #26 of the Tampa Bay Lightning advances the puck as Erik Condra #22 of the Ottawa Senators pursues during the game at the Tampa Bay Times Forum on April 9, 2013 in Tampa, Florida.  (Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images)
J. Meric/Getty Images

Martin St. Louis is still a game-changer for the Tampa Bay Lightning.

St. Louis is tied for second in the NHL in scoring with 52 points. He sits in that position with celebrated teammate Steven Stamkos.

It's likely that St. Louis or Stamkos will pass Sidney Crosby as he continues to miss games as a result of his broken jaw. Crosby has returned to skating but there is no timetable for his return to game action.

Nobody is saying that St. Louis is better than Crosby, but he is good enough to take advantage of Crosby's absence and possibly come away with the Art Ross Trophy, which goes to the league's leading scorer.

St. Louis is a spectacular performer who continues to make creative and aggressive plays for the disappointing Tampa Bay Lightning. He factors in to what the Lightning are trying to accomplish in the final weeks of the season, and he will man a key role in the future.

Tampa Bay general manager Steve Yzerman gave St. Louis a big thumbs up prior to the trade deadline. He refused to include St. Louis in any trade talk because he's too important to the team's future.

"Marty St. Louis is not going to be traded," Steve Yzerman told hockey columnist Pierre LeBrun. "He remains one of the best players in the league and an extremely important player to our team, both on and off the ice. We are a team in transition, we just made a coaching change, Marty is one of the leaders of the team, he is not going anywhere."

St. Louis is a tiny blur when he is going at full speed on the ice, which is just about all the time.

At 5'8", 176 pounds, St. Louis knows he is going to get the worst of it in most collisions if he is going at a normal speed. However, if he skates at full speed, flies into the slot and dips his shoulder into an unsuspecting defenseman, he can claim his own piece of real estate in a prime scoring area and make a play.

More often than not, St. Louis is flying around on the outside and using his speed and quickness to make plays. He is a spectacular and well-balanced skater who can deliver the puck to his teammates with accuracy.

Check out St. Louis when he is skating down the wing with the puck. His head is up, and he sees everything. If he sends a pass to a teammate, it regularly arrives right on the tape.

St. Louis can still put the puck in the net, although he has been a much better setup man this year than scorer. He has 11 goals, but he has not had less than 25 goals in a full season since 2001-02 when he was held to 16. He scored a career-high 43 goals in 2006-07.

St. Louis has the speed, quickness, dogged determination and instincts to dominate game action. Even though he has been playing in the NHL since 1998-99 and played two years of junior hockey and four years of college hockey at the University of Vermont prior to his pro career, St. Louis still has that competitive gene working for him.

St. Louis wants to win every race to the puck, every puck battle and do whatever he can to help his team win.

If he wasn't a game-changing player, Yzerman would have been more than happy to move him prior to the trade deadline.

But St. Louis remains a warrior on the ice.

If the Lightning are going to come out of their two-season malaise next year, the ultra-quick and ultra-competitive St. Louis will be a part of the effort.