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Lightning head coach Guy Boucher looks to keep team level-headed amidst Steven Stamkos’ 60-goal pursuit

by Peter Pupello / Tampa Bay Lightning

Here’s the thing about scoring 60 goals in the NHL:

It happens so infrequently, that on the rare occasion in which a player has a legitimate shot at reaching the milestone, “everybody likes to start talking about it,” Bolts forward Steven Stamkos says.

Well, everybody except Lightning head coach Guy Boucher. “To be honest, I’m not really too big on these things,” Boucher said. “The reality is nobody in the room talks about that. The coaches don’t talk about that, even the players don’t talk about that. The only ones who really talk about that are the media who make it big and big, but to me, I always kind of laugh at that, as if he only gets to 59 [goals] he’s not as good of a player.”

For Boucher, it is as much about protecting one individual as it is the entire team.

While conceding that scoring 60 goals in a single season is a remarkable achievement, Boucher does not want a single storyline off the ice to be a distraction, especially as the club looks to build off two consecutive wins and finish the season strong.

Steven Stamkos celebrates his 58th goal of the season, an empty-netter to seal victory over the Capitals Monday night. (Photo by Scott Audette/NHLI via Getty Images)
“These are things that usually throw the player and the players in the wrong direction,” Boucher added. “Because then they don’t react the way they should and they start to go after intangible things that are not part of our team-oriented mentality.”

Like on Saturday night in a game against Winnipeg when Stamkos’ linemate, Teddy Purcell, unsuccessfully tried to thread a few passes through traffic in an attempt to get him the puck.

Stamkos, however, agrees with his head coach, as he himself advised teammates not to change their game and pass up their own individual opportunities merely in order to earn him more touches.

In fact, it was with that message that Boucher even further recognized Stamkos’ maturity and selflessness as a player, that at least in the eyes of the head coach, are more impressive than his on-ice accomplishments.

“Steven is the first guy to be an unselfish, team-oriented guy,” Boucher said. “If he’s got 59 goals and has an open net and gives the puck to somebody else, that says a lot more to me than 60 goals on paper.”

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