Center - TBL
GOALS: 52 | ASST: 35 | PTS: 87
SOG: 263 | +/-: 5
It occurred over two years ago, but Steven Stamkos
nevertheless said it was “pretty cool” to become just the sixth NHL player in the last two decades to score 50 goals in a single season as a teenager.
Two weeks ago, he called it “surreal” when asked to describe the feeling of recording two 50-goal seasons before age 23. So what else was left to say after Monday night’s 5-3 win over the Philadelphia Flyers, in which Stamkos scored his 53rd goal of the season to set a new Lightning franchise single-season record?
“It's special,” Stamkos told NHL.com. “Any time you can have an individual thing like that on a team that's been around for a while and had a lot of great players come through, it’s pretty special. It’s something you remember.”
Stamkos surpassed the previous team record of 52 goals set by current Lightning captain Vincent Lecavalier
in 2006-07, and also pulled seven goals ahead of Pittsburgh Penguins forward Evgeni Malkin in the Rocket Richard Trophy race.
If Stamkos does indeed capture the Rocket for the second time in three seasons, he will become just the fourth player in the brief history of the award to win it twice, as he would join Pavel Bure, Jarome Iginla and Alex Ovechkin.
“I don't want to say I’m amazed because he’s been doing it three years in a row,” teammate Vincent Lecavalier
told The Tampa Bay Times. “Last year he got 45 and he could have got 55, so three years in a row like that is unbelievable. His standards are different than anyone else’s.”
Stamkos’ on-ice accomplishments are impressive for multiple reasons.
Scoring 50 goals is a relatively rare occurrence, as only nine players have reached the 50-goal plateau since the NHL work stoppage in 2004-05. When Stamkos scored number 50 against Boston two weeks ago, it marked just the 11th time in the past six seasons a player reached 50 goals, with only three individuals – Ovechkin, Dany Heatley and Stamkos – accomplishing the feat more than once.
But according to Lightning head coach Guy Boucher, Stamkos’ current 50-goal campaign is about quality more than it is quantity.
“You look at a few years ago when he had 51 goals, and you see that half of them were on the power play,” Boucher said. “Now, I think this season he has 10 or 11 on the power play, so he’s scoring from everywhere. He's still a young man and it's great to see how he's evolving right now. He's doing it all.”
A look back at the most goals scored in a single season in franchise history:
Stamkos has rapidly transformed himself into a more complete player, scoring from different areas of the ice, in different situations, all while still maintaining responsibilities in his team’s own defensive end.
Of the 22-year-old’s 53 goals, only 11 have come on the power play, while 42 have come at even strength, 10 have been game-winners and four have been in overtime. He has also scored the first goal of the game nine times, and according to Boucher, has only scored a handful of goals from his one-time domain that used to be the right faceoff circle.
With such versatility, it’s likely this season won’t be the last season in which Stamkos goes above and beyond the 50-goal mark. At least Lecavalier doesn’t think so.
“He's probably going to beat it many more times,” Lecavalier added to The Tampa Bay Times. “I'm happy for him. He's a great guy. It can't happen to a better person.”