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Lightning's St. Louis in line to win Ross Trophy

by Lonnie Herman /

TAMPA -- With a goal and an assist Saturday, Tampa Bay Lightning forward Martin St. Louis likely nailed down his second NHL scoring title.

If/when the Art Ross Trophy, signifying the top scorer, is awarded to St. Louis, it will come with a few very significant "firsts."

At 37, St. Louis would become the oldest player to win the award, and it would mark the longest gap between wins of any player. Nine years have elapsed since St. Louis won the title for the first time, in 2003-04. The Lightning won the Stanley Cup that season.

Martin St Louis
Martin St Louis
Right Wing - TBL
GOALS: 17 | ASST: 43 | PTS: 60
SOG: 112 | +/-: 0
In addition to the historic award, St. Louis, who finished with 17 goals and 43 assists for 60 points in the 48-game season, continues to gather accolades from his teammates and opponents.

"It's incredible what St. Louis is doing," Lightning captain Vincent Lecavalier said. "Age is just a number and it doesn't slow him down. He's ahead of the game all the time. A great player."

St. Louis is three points ahead of teammate Steven Stamkos, and four clear of Alex Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals and Sidney Crosby of the Pittsburgh Penguins.

The Boston Bruins play host to the Ottawa Senators on Sunday in the last game of the NHL regular season. No one on either team has more than 36 points.

Although the Lightning's game Saturday was between two non-playoff teams wrapping up their seasons and had little significance beyond St. Louis' pursuit of the points title, it is his unselfishness that coach Jon Cooper pointed to.

"He wanted to win the game," Cooper said. "It's a tribute to everything about him. He puts the team first."

But for how long can St. Louis maintain this level of play? That's a question that nags at Cooper as he helps rebuild the Lightning.

"One of the things we have to do here is accelerate this process. It's amazing. You look at St. Louis and think he's 27, not 37, but eventually the clock will tick. It happens to everybody. We have to take advantage of Marty being at the top of the game, which he is right now."

For his part, St. Louis was self-effacing and realistic as he assessed his achievement.

"As you get older you always have to answer questions about your age and if you're slowing down," he said. "You're fighting those. But everyone has adversity and questions they have to answer, but the person you have to answer those questions to first and foremost is yourself."

St. Louis also had no illusions about the fact that the award was his because Crosby, who had a significant lead in the scoring race, had his season halted by an injury on March 30. He missed the final 12 games of the season.

"Age is just a number and it doesn't slow him down. He's ahead of the game all the time. A great player." -- Lightning captain Vincent Lecavalier on Martin St. Louis

"Sidney Crosby gets hurt and then you find yourself in a position to do something pretty cool," St. Louis said. "Sometimes it's not as good a year as you are having. There are things you can't control. When I won it in 2003-2004, I had 94 points and a couple of years later I had 102 and I wasn't even the best in the League. It's a combination of a lot of things. The fact that Sidney got hurt is a big reason I finished first.

"It's something no one can take away from you. It's in the books. I'm proud. I'm really excited about it. I'm not going to pretend I'm not."

Proud and excited, maybe, but St. Louis was adamant about one thing that can't be changed.

"I'd trade this trophy for the playoffs and a chance at the Stanley Cup," St. Louis said. "Trying to make the best of the situation and trying to play the right way and do the right things and hopefully you get some points along the way, but believe me, I'd trade that for a chance to be in the playoffs any day."

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