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Stamkos, St. Louis Could Provide Chemistry Boost For Canada

by Missy Zielinski / Tampa Bay Lightning

As introductory speculation for who should make the final cut began today after Team Canada released its 2014 Winter Olympic orientation camp roster invitees, an abundance of new skaters appeared on the list of 47 hopefuls who wish to make that final list. The Tampa Bay Lightning’s Steve Stamkos and Martin St. Louis were two names who appeared on the lineup and both could be an important pairing for the team’s success.

With a main theme of this year’s Canadian team being the fresh-faced skater, the Lightning’s Stamkos is looking to be one of the few who “work their way into the lineup.”

“We all consider Stamkos a young player. He’s been in the NHL for five years and some of these younger players are forcing their way into the lineup,” said Lightning general manager, and executive director of Canada’s National Men’s Team, Steve Yzerman. “They’ve matured, they’ve put their time in and they’re elite players in the league. It’s somewhat a ‘changing of the guard.’”

His name, found missing from the Gold Medal-winning team in 2010, was attributed to his age and experience, but Stamkos would go on to make 2009-10 his breakout year. The Markham, Ontario native more than doubled his point count from the previous season by chipping in 95 points and was named recipient of the Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy, awarded to the top goal scorer in the league. He’d produce similar numbers and the same trophy again in 2011-12.

There’s very little time to prepare for this tournament. If we’re in a position to take players who've played together and are familiar with one another it may help in the coming together process and with guys getting more comfortable. Steve Yzerman

Stamkos, who like many other young players, “was on the cusp of breaking in” in 2010, according to Yzerman, have now found himself atop the mix in 2014 along with fellow linemate St. Louis.

Establishing himself in Tampa Bay since the 2000-01 season, St. Louis was included on Team Canada’s 2006 roster where he registered two goals and one assist in six games as part of that year’s Winter Games held in Turin, Italy. During the course of his tenure with the Bolts, St. Louis continued to provide a constant presence. However, St. Louis would not be asked to re-join Canada again in 2010, despite accruing 94 points throughout the 2009-10 season. Those 94 points matched St. Louis’ point count during the team’s first-ever Stanley Cup Championship in 2003-04 and winning the Hart Trophy as MVP.

St. Louis’ argument to make the team for perhaps the last time in his career, while almost completely dependent on Stamkos, also has the second theme of this year’s crop – veteran presence.

“Those who’ve been in the Olympics before have been through a lot and they don’t get overwhelmed by the situation and can kind of settle things down for the younger guys,” said Yzerman.

It would mean almost instant success for those two superstar forwards who have played together for the last five years and have been a constant threat to any team’s defense in the league.

“There’s very little time to prepare for this tournament,” said Yzerman. “If we’re in a position to take players who’ve played together and are familiar with one another it may help in the coming together process and with guys getting more comfortable.”

With the list of 47 being recently unveiled, Canada will have time to discuss “the loaded roster.” Stamkos and St. Louis, who are iconic parts of the Lightning front lines, might make the pressure of time and dependency an easier task as their chemistry to score has been nearly unmatched throughout their tenure.

AROUND THE WORLD: Lightning players invited to Olympic camps to date include St. Louis (CAN), Stamkos (CAN), Victor Hedman (SWE), Valtteri Filppula (FIN), Sami Salo (FIN), Radko Gudas (CZE) and Ondrej Palat (CZE), while Kristers Gudlevskis (LAT), Richard Panik (SVK) and Jaroslav Janus (SVK) are possibilities to appear on other Olympic rosters.

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