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While Stamkos went seven games without a goal in March, but otherwise didn’t have a stretch of more than three games in which he didn’t tally a goal. So, in theory, he’s due on Thursday night as the Lightning take on the Wings in Game 4 at the Joe, trailing 2-1.
His coach Jon Cooper sounds like he believes in that theory.
"You see a close game and he happens not to score, the alarm goes off, 'What's wrong with Stammer,'" Cooper said, via the Detroit News. "He's had a couple of good looks in this series. If you go down the list of some of our players who haven't scored, he's had a couple of helpers (assists). These guys that have done it on numerous occasions, there's a little more weight on their shoulders.
"Does Stammer wish he has a goal or two in this series? For sure. Do I think Detroit will keep him down the whole series? I don't. It's just a matter of time."
If he does it in Detroit, it would likely come against Pavel Datsyuk’s line, which shut down Stamkos to the tune of two shots in 16:47 – he had as many shots on goal as minor penalties taken.
The lack of goal-scoring from Stamkos affects several areas of the team. Take the power-play, for example: The Bolts are 0-for-13 in the series in their losses and were 0-for-6 in Game 3. They were 14th in the NHL on the man advantage in the regular season (18.8 percent) and Stamkos had 13 power-play goals.
But the power play in the playoffs might be an indication that there’s something wrong with Stamkos beyond the Red Wings’ defense and his own bad puck luck.
Cooper’s used him at the front of the net on the man advantage, taking away that lethal shot from the circle where he snipes so many goals. Both ESPN’s John Buccigross and Sportsnet’s Jeff Marek on today’s MvsW indicated this change, and his lack of production, are in indication that Stamkos is playing with an injury, perhaps to his shoulder.
Neither the Lightning nor Stamkos had indicated there’s anything wrong with the star sniper. In fact, Stamkos said he just needs to find that extra gear.
“No, it’s just myself, personally, I’ve got to be better,” Stamkos said. “We talked about it a little bit to take a peek in the mirror and realize what we have to bring to the table in order for ourselves as individuals to give our team a best chance to win. I got to be better. We’ve all got to be better. Not a good game for us the last game, and I think we were able to see it on the video and for us it’s just our willingness to compete. We know we have the skill. We know we have the speed and the intangibles that go along with that. But when we compete we’re a good hockey club and we need to do that next game.”
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