TAMPA, FL - FEBRUARY 18: Steven Stamkos #91 of the Tampa Bay Lightning gets control of the puck between Mathieu Perreault #85 and Roman Hamrlik #44 of the Washington Capitals at the Tampa Bay Times Forum on February 18, 2012 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Scott Audette/NHLI via Getty Images)

Stamkos: 30, 40... 51?

This year Steven Stamkos has shown his skills yet again. For the third consecutive season, Stamkos has surpassed the 40 goal mark. In fact, his goals total for the last three seasons is 136 goals, easily placing him ahead of everyone else in terms of goals scored since the beginning of the ’09-’10 season. Stamkos has been a great leader on the ice as well, beginning with the most obvious form of recognition: an ‘A’ on his jersey. Stammer has shown to everyone why he is the Assistant captain on the team at only 22 years of age. With so many goals scored against, it’s very hard to keep a great plus minus on this Lightning team. However, Stamkos is tied at second on the team with a plus-6 rating (tied with Bergeron, two behind Purcell). Stamkos’ fabulous offensive play has been complimented by improving defensive play from the center. Critics have always questioned Steven’s ability to play defense, but he has responded by steadily improving his defensive play throughout the season.

Of course, the main focus this year for those looking at Stamkos is his goal total: he’s already broken 30, and he just reached 40 goals this past Saturday against the Capitals. The question is, will he break his previous career high of 51 goals? Will he pass his Rocket Richard-winning goal total from ’09-’10 season? Stammer has 24 games to score 11 goals, and mathematically is on pace for 56 goals. All of that is a great sign, but players aren’t robots, therefore we cannot consider Stamkos a lock to score 56 goals. Last year, Stammer at one point was on pace to score 60+ goals. That obviously did not happen. I am confident Stamkos will score more than 50 goals and at least tie his previous season-high. However, one must also ask; will Stamkos go on an insane tear and break 60 goals? Or will he slump and score less than 8 goals during the remainder of the season? These questions should drive us all to watch Stamkos closely the rest of the way. If not just for the hope of Stamkos helping the Lightning to a playoff berth, watch him for the pure excitement he brings each times he steps onto the ice.

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