Tampa Bay Lightning's Steven Stamkos Rubs Shoulders with Greatness

JC De La TorreAnalyst IIIMarch 26, 2010

While his hockey team may have fallen out of the Eastern Conference playoff race, 20-year-old Lightning center Steven Stamkos has pushed to the top of the line to stand with two of the NHL's best players, Sid "the Kid" Crosby and Alexander "the Great" Ovechkin, tied for the league lead in goals scored at 45.

Stamkos added two more to his tally in Tampa Bay's 5-3 victory over the Boston Bruins, pulling the Lightning within six points of the final spot in the Eastern Conference with just eight games to play (Boston has a game in hand on the Lightning).

While the first one for Stamkos tonight was an uncharacteristic tip, his second-period goal was picturesque Stamkos on the power play.

Fed the puck by defenseman Kevin Foster, Stamkos ripped that deadly slap shot past by the Boston Goalie, Rask, to give the Lightning a commanding 4-2 lead.

Stamkos leads in the league in Power Play goals with 20.

As Lightning fans have watched the youngster grow up before their eyes, Stamkos has remained humble throughout his rise to stardom.

Really...there is no denying it any more, is there? Steven Stamkos is one of the best hockey players in the NHL and considering his youth and immense ability, he'll likely be there for some time.

Teamed with Steve Downie and the immortal Martin St. Louis, Stamkos may just miss becoming the second player in Lightning history to reach the 50 goal plateau but he could become the second to win the Maurice "Rocket" Richard trophy for most goals this season.

While personal accolades are great, the leadership this youngster shows on and off the ice contributes to one of the most unassuming players on the hockey team.

"Stammer the Hammer" as he's affectionately is nicknamed, cares more about getting his team to the playoffs than how many times he lights the lamp.

For Canadian fans who have lusted after Vincent Lecavalier for a decade, the news of Tampa Bay getting another Canadian superstar must be frustrating. Here's the scary thing: Stamkos is already farther along in his career than Vinny.

Lecavalier didn't top the 30-goal plateau until his fifth season in the league. Stamkos did it in just two. Vinny didn't get over 40 goals until his eighth season when he set a franchise record with 52.

You get the idea. Stamkos has the makings of becoming one of the best players in franchise history.

So, move over Sid. Make some room, Ovie. It's Hammer Time.


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