Tuesday, December 21, 2010

That Just Happened

Photo by Me

Back at the beginning of November, I wrote about how impressed I was with the Lightning and Steven Stamkos' play at that point in the young NHL season. Well, they have floored me again. I was at the Lightning's 5-1 victory over the Carolina Hurricanes last night and the milestones were flying all over the place. Teddy Purcell had his 13th point in 13 games. Vinny Lecavalier tallied his 750th career assist. Marty St. Louis passed Vinny to be come the franchise leader in game winning goals scored. These are all fantastic, but one milestone stands out a bit more.

At 16:26 in the second period, Steven Stamkos scored his 100th career goal. That statistic is impressive enough without anymore detail. But wait, there's more. Stamkos is only 20 years old. He has only played two and a half NHL seasons. He is now one of six players to reach that mark before his 21st birthday. Some of the other guys who have done it: Wayne Gretzky, Jimmy Carson, Brian Bellows, Ilya Kovalchuk. This kid keeps getting better.

I am really enjoying seeing what will happen next. The team is off to their best start in team history. There is some nagging doubt at the back of my mind. Like all masochistic sports fans, I can't just sit back and enjoy the good times. I have to worry about our goal tending inconsistencies. Mike Smith was just starting to get hot and he's out 2-3 weeks due to a knee injury sustained at yesterday's practice. Will he be able to pick up that momentum when he gets back? Yes, Dan Ellis did play his best game of the season last night. But can we really count on him for more of those performances? His teammates aren't always going to have an flurry of offense and score 5 goals. We have Cedrick Desjardins on the bench as a back up. I was very impressed with him during training camp, but he is untested in an NHL setting.

Then I go on and worry about what happens at the end of this season when Stamkos needs a new contract. I am very, very worried that the Lightning won't be able to hang on to them given their current contract restrictions with some players. I know there is nothing that one fan can do to change what is going to happen. I am just really enjoying this season. And I don't want that feeling to end anytime soon.

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