Wednesday, March 14, 2012

First to Fifty!

Considering the anxious glances towards the Tampa Bay Lightning's much vaunted 1-3-1 at the start of the season, you tend to do a double take when you hear that  22 year old Steven Stamkos became the first NHLer this year to reach the 50 goal benchmark.

No slight on Stamkos, who clearly is a gifted scorer, it's just that Tampa has kind of disappeared into an NHL version of the  Bermuda Triangle, not much is heard about the place this year.

Stamkos picked up goals number 49 and 50 on Tuesday night, leading the Lightning to a 6-1 victory over the Boston  Bruins, uh, the Boston Bruins?  Time for another double take.

Indicative of the sudden struggles of the B's these days, the Lightning filled the net with frightening regularity on Tuesday(well frightening if you're Claude Julien and wondering what the heck is going on).

The feat by Stamkos clearly puts him on the homestretch towards the Rocket Richard award at season's end, the goal scorers holy grail when it comes to the planned ceremonies in Las Vegas in June. He is far and away ahead of all his competitors in this 2011-12 season.

With his goal scoring pace and adding on assists along the way, he also may have a shot at the overall scoring title, Stamkos currently is tied for the lead with Pittsburgh's Evgeni Malkin.

Of course, Stamkos most likely would rather have a chance to hoist up the Stanley Cup, but this year at least,  at this point and despite 197 goals for thus far, that would seem to be a doubtful proposition, as the Bolts trail a playoff spot by some 7 points.

So barring a sudden Stamkos led surge to the final playoff spot, the Bolts  may have to settle for the individual awards when they come along.

And heading towards the end of the season, the prospects of a trip to Las Vegas seem very good for Mr. Stamkos.

Tampa Bay Times-- Steven Stamkos hits 50 goal mark for second time ...
TBO-- Stamkos scores 50th, joins exclusive group as Bolts roll
Toronto Star-- Steven Stamkos scores 50th goal ...
Boston Globe-- Lightning's Stamkos scores 2 to reach 50 goals
NBC Sports-- Steven Stamkos becomes this season's first 50 goal scorer
Sports Illustrated -- Lightning's Stamkos scores 2 to reach 50
NESN-- Steven Stamkos Scores 49th, 50th Goals of Season in Blowout win over Bruins

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