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Stamkos focused on getting Lightning into playoffs

Tuesday, 01.08.2013 / 4:15 PM / NHL Insider

NHL.com

Steven Stamkos had a remarkable season in 2011-12, scoring a League-best 60 goals, finishing second with 97 points, and being a finalist for the Hart Trophy.

So how does the Tampa Bay Lightning forward top all that?

Simple, he told reporters in Tampa on Tuesday.

"Get into the playoffs," Stamkos said. "That's the big key and that's our goal here as an organization -- get back into the playoffs."

The Lightning finished 10th in the Eastern Conference last season, eight points out of a playoff spot, after finishing fifth in the East in 2010-11 and advancing to the 2011 Eastern Conference Finals.

"We saw what we did a couple years ago," Stamkos said. "Just have to get in [to the playoffs] and things can happen. That's the model we have this year. We want to be a playoff team."

Stamkos said the lockout proved to be a double-edged sword for him. While he certainly missed playing hockey and his teammates, he said it was good to be able to spend extra time with friends and family at home in Canada.

Being back in Tampa now and getting ready to start the season is exciting. And being in Florida this time of year has other benefits.

"It was nice to drive with the windows open today and not have to shovel my way out in the morning," he said.

It means a lot to us, we're very excited. We're looking to continue to build on [our] top core talent of young players. It's just a great opportunity for us to really build high.

— Panthers vice president of hockey operations Travis Viola after Florida won the No. 1 pick in the NHL Draft Lottery