Steven Stamkos scored his seventh and eighth goals of the tournament this afternoon when Team Canada defeated Slovenia in their final round robin game at the IIHF Men’s World Hockey Championship. Team Canada flirted with disaster, nearly being upset by the pesky Slovenians who were up 2-0 at the end of the first period and 3-2 at the end of the second. Stamkos scored his first goal to tie the game at two in the second period, and his second goal was scored on a breakaway in overtime to give Canada a 4-3 win.
Stamkos is currently leading Team Canada in all major offensive categories with six goals, five assists (tied with two other players), and eleven total points. His 27 shots are also tops on the team, and his +5 rating is tied for best among the team’s forwards (tied for second team-wide).
While it might not seem like this has any relevance to the Tampa Bay Lightning, I would argue otherwise. It’s easy to forget that Stamkos is a very young player, and above learning to skate, shoot, and pass at the NHL level, what young NHL’ers need to learn first and foremost is how to win. They need to expect to win. And at just 23, every important game Steven Stamkos plays, even if he’s wearing a red #91 rather than a blue #91, is going to help him become a winning player.
Stamkos’ drive and desire is evident in all areas of his game. I’ve often said that his difficulties in the defensive zone have nothing to do with his will. As he ages, and as certain other Lightning players age out of the NHL, Stamkos is going to be looked to more and more by his teammates not just to score, but to lead. And in order to lead, he needs to be comfortable that he understands what it takes to win.
Team Canada currently sits atop the tournament’s Stockholm group, one point ahead of Switzerland. Switzerland has made a statement in this tournament, and shocked Team Canada (and the rest of the world, perhaps) by beating them earlier in the tournament.
Team Canada will take the ice again on Thursday for the tournament’s quarterfinals. Their opponent has yet to be determined.
Tags: Steven Stamkos