Toronto has offered quite a homecoming for Steven Stamkos the past two days. First, work on a cover story (complete with a photo shoot) with linemate Steve Downie for The Hockey News yesterday afternoon at practice. Second, it was back home with his Mom and Dad for a little rest and relaxation complete with a home cooked meal last evening.
This morning it was back to work with his teammates at the pregame skate to get prepared for a big, big game tonight against the Maple Leafs. And after the skate, he was met by gobs of reporters (check out the photo on Twitter) looking to ask him about everything from his torrid goal scoring streak, to his relationship with Downie, to his thoughts on the 2010 and the 2014 (yes, already being discussed here in Canada) Olympics.
He handled all of it with dignity and a team-first approach even though it would be easy to get personally caught up in all the attention he is receiving as an individual. He continues to keep the focus on his teammates and the goal of making the playoffs.
That said, tonight is very important for the Bolts, who also play tomorrow in Washington and Sunday at home against Pittsburgh. From a lineup standpoint it looks like Mike Smith will get the start in goal for the Lightning and Ryan Malone intends on playing after missing the Montreal game with an upper body injury.
Gametime is 7 p.m. and it will be televised on Sun Sports with Chris Dingman joining Rick Peckham and Bobby Taylor on the broadcast crew.