Steven Stamkos is heating up one of the coldest months of the year.
After finishing the final five games of November with at least a point in each, Stamkos has carried the momentum into December, when temperatures are likely to drop long before the Lightning forward’s offensive production does.
Stamkos is currently riding an eight-game point streak with five goals and six assists in that span. Entering Thursday, no other NHL player this season had recorded at least a point in more than seven consecutive games.
“Lately I think it’s just been my ability to stay confident and to feel good about myself going into every game,” Stamkos said. “I get out there and I have that mentality to use my speed to gain separation from defenders and create scoring chances, and my shot to go to certain areas of the ice and score goals.”
The torrid scoring tear began on Nov. 22 against Toronto, when he notched an assist on Vincent Lecavalier’s power-play goal that erased a one-goal deficit in the first period, allowing the Lightning to get back into the game after falling behind early.
In the team’s next match, the first of a back-to-back home and home series against the Panthers, Stamkos netted the game-winning goal in overtime to help the Lightning steal two points from their division-rival before scoring two more just 24 hours later, then another on Nov. 28, and yet another on Nov. 30 to close out the month on a four-game goal scoring streak.
When the calendar changed, Stamkos’ mental approach to land on the score sheet clearly didn’t.
Through just three games this month, Stamkos has at least one assist in each. A humble start to December, yes, but an accurate representation of the consistency he has shown as of late.
Stamkos has scored 10 goals in his past 15 games, including four in his past seven outings, and has points in 19 of his past 22 games overall. It doesn’t hurt, either, that his plus-eight rating leads the team.
Not bad for a guy who hasn’t been held without a point since Nov. 19.
“When things are going well and they’re working for you, you don’t really change too much,” the forward added. “It’s a matter of staying consistent and putting that plan into action.
Personally, I think I have even more than what I’m showing right now.”
What he is showing is that in just three full seasons, he has become one of the NHL’s elite players that was worthy of a number-one overall draft selection in 2008. Any more, and it won’t be long until he inches his seventh position in the ranks among the league’s leading scorers even closer to the top.
“I think he plays the game the only way he knows how,” head coach Guy Boucher said of his star center. “No matter who he plays with or who he goes up against, he’s always going to outdo himself.”