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Steven Stamkos leads revamped Lightning to Verizon Center

By Katie Carrera

Steven Stamkos, Tampa Bay LightningTampa Bay star Steven Stamkos gets tied up by former Capital Shaone Morrisonn and John Carlson during a game in March. (John McDonnell/The Washington Post)

This evening at Verizon Center, the Capitals get their first look at the Tampa Bay Lightning team that, through 14 games this season, appears to have moved far past the on-ice struggles and internal strife of the past few seasons.

And no one is helping to lead the Lightning's resurgence quite like center Steven Stamkos, who at the start to his third NHL season leads the league with 24 points (13 goals, 11 assists). It appears that Tampa Bay is quickly becoming his team.

"Everybody talks about his shot, I think it's his speed," Coach Bruce Boudreau said when asked what impresses him most about Stamkos. "He is fast as fast. And he can do things in full speed with the puck that other guys have to glide doing. So you add [Martin] St. Louis and [Vincent] Lecavailer and their other cast, and it reminds you of a young Caps team, I think, with Ovi young and Nicky young. They're coming into their own, so we'd better beware."

Stamkos is known for his dedication to conditioning and his snap shot, which has served him well so far this season. Puck Daddy's Greg Wyshynski had a great Q&A session with Stamkos earlier this week that can offer more insight on the young star.

Keep a particularly close eye on Stamkos during Tampa Bay power plays. He's scored the majority of his six power-play tallies with one-timers from the left faceoff dot, and it will be a challenge for the Caps' penalty kill to try to prevent that while not leaving any of the Lightning's other offensive weapons from burning them should they overcommit to Stamkos's side of the ice.

"He's shifty and he's got speed and a good shot and he's definitely someone you want to keep an eye on," defenseman John Erskine said. "We've always had some good competition [in the Southeast Division]; like when we play Carolina, they always battle us good, but this year Atlanta's going to be up there and Tampa's up there. All the teams are looking a little stronger and it's definitely going to help us out... it'll keep us on track."

Of all the teams in the Southeast that have made changes in search of a strong 2010-11 season, Tampa Bay may face the highest expectations of them all, and to this point, there's no reason to believe the Lightning won't live up to the goal of returning to the playoffs. But with improved competition in the division, particularly from the Lightning, the Capitals understand they can't afford to take any of these games for granted.

"You've got to be in your head a little bit; aware that they're playing really good and you've got to make sure you don't do lazy plays like we used to do against them," Tomas Fleischmann said. "Now it's a different team, so we've got to be stronger in our mindset to play them and win this game at home."

By Katie Carrera  | November 11, 2010; 1:09 PM ET
Categories:  Tampa Bay Lightning  
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Next: Tonight's lineup: Lightning at Caps

Comments

Ok, Tomas. That means you will play a strong game tonight and I'll be watching you. Better back it up!!

Posted by: coolcraig | November 11, 2010 1:49 PM | Report abuse

One thing I found interesting about this game was the NHL Network promo for it. "Come see high flying scorer, Steven Stamkos, and watch John Carlson and the Caps D try and stop him." Notice anything missing there? Hopefully this finds its way to the bulletin board at KCI, that apparently people are no longer tuning in to see the SOB line, but Stamkos & Co. instead.

Also, anyone have a link to video of Kovalchuk's Shootout blooper last night? Priceless.

Posted by: vtavgjoe | November 11, 2010 1:54 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: nicety251 | November 11, 2010 1:59 PM | Report abuse

If Poti is back, anyone think he'll get tasked to cover Stamkos? Someone's got to!

Posted by: capscoach | November 11, 2010 2:48 PM | Report abuse

From the last thread:

Oh man, don't trash the Pens! Everytime I think they're down and out, they come back and win the Cup or go to the Finals, or just beat us in a playoff series. They're pure evil and the Caps need to find a Ruling Ring or something to destroy them forever, or at least win a playoff series. Bold prediction: Vokoun is a Pen at the trade deadline. You heard it here first

Posted by: TempusFugitRGV1 | November 11, 2010 2:49 PM | Report abuse

Vokoun is a Pen at the trade deadline. You heard it here first


they don't have the cap space for it...they would have to move someone else of relative significance.

Posted by: capscoach | November 11, 2010 2:51 PM | Report abuse

they don't have the cap space for it...they would have to move someone else of relative significance.

Posted by: capscoach

Yes, I am aware of that, via capgeek. They'll find a way. I know it, just because it's the last thing I want to happen

Posted by: TempusFugitRGV1 | November 11, 2010 2:55 PM | Report abuse

In fact I could envision a Souray situation happening where the Pens bury Fleury in the minors, then try to trade him during the offseason, when I believe he won't be subject to re-entry waivers. I'd imagine they must be fed up with his inconsistency by now

Posted by: TempusFugitRGV1 | November 11, 2010 2:58 PM | Report abuse

Great article on Stamkos. He's now one of my favorite non-Caps. Loved this paragraph:

"My dad's always someone I always looked up to. When I was a young kid, I'd have a couple of goals in a game and I'd come back thinking I played pretty good. And my dad would say I didn't play well that day. 'Just because you have a couple goals doesn't mean you played really well.' It was all about your work ethic. It really opened my eyes at a young age: You don't have to score a bunch of goals to have a good game."

Great stuff.

Posted by: tominsocal1 | November 11, 2010 3:10 PM | Report abuse

If Fluerry doesn't start playing better no one will want him at his cap hit...it seems like teams are not wanting to spend too much on goalies anymore anyhow. My guess is he bounces back within the next month. Unfortunately u r right in that u can never count the Pens out.

Posted by: capscoach | November 11, 2010 3:10 PM | Report abuse

Pens have no space. Even projecting to the deadline, they won't have hardly any space, so they can't even include a prorated portion of Vokoun's $6M or whatever unless they moved almost as much salary. Like Fleury.

One thing you can note checking Pitt's cap figures is that Crosby is a UFA in 2.5 years. I have speculated previously he might not stay in Pittsburgh. You can imagine the fanfare if he were to return home to Canada. I know everyone THINKS he'll stay in Pitt, but people thought LeBron would stay in Cleveland too.

Posted by: tominsocal1 | November 11, 2010 3:16 PM | Report abuse

Two years ago I thought the Peenies were dead in the water in Jan./ Feb. I even talked some smack to a fan friend of mine and told him they wouldn't make the playoffs. They won the cup. Yes they are evil. You have to cut off their heads and drive a stake through their hearts. That said, I want 'em in the playoffs. I know it doesn't mean as much to the current players, but I want to exorcise those demons. We need to win a playoff series against them, preferably the conference finals. And I would love to see Cindy leave and go to Toronto or Ottawa. The bawling of the Burghers would be epic.

Posted by: kevbnyc | November 11, 2010 3:26 PM | Report abuse

@tominsocal

that would be so weird if he left Pitt! I just can't see it! Who knows though...I think Malkin will leave eventually, but Pitt will do eveything withi reason to keep their superstar.

Posted by: capscoach | November 11, 2010 3:26 PM | Report abuse

The biggest difference between the Caps and Tampa...they have a GM.

Yzerman is the real deal.

Mcphee is a hack.

Posted by: chrisclarksucks | November 11, 2010 3:34 PM | Report abuse

If Crosby ever leaves Pittsburgh, there would be so much crying it would create a fourth river.

(I know I read that one before, but can't recall who gets the credit. Regardless, it's funny.)

Posted by: tominsocal1 | November 11, 2010 3:36 PM | Report abuse

BTW, I swear I saw a headline somewhere recently indicating ESPN might have some interest once the current NHL-Versus deal ends. Did anyone else see that?

A new (and bigger) contract could have a significant on the salary cap (it would go up) and that has to be in the minds of players and GMs as guys like Stamkos and Semin negotiate new deals.

Oh, I think someone here pointed out, but LeBrun over at ESPN points out players on one-way deals, per CBA, can't begin negotiating with teams until after Jan 1, but that he's heard Semin and the team have "mutual interest" to begin the process.

5 years, $36M has been my guess for some time (just north of Cammalleri and DSedin). And, for Laich, 4 yrs, $15M.

And, finally, to think how some of us, many of us, said, "Not just No, but he!! No!" to the idea of the Caps going after Kovalchuk last summer. What an albatross that would be.

Posted by: tominsocal1 | November 11, 2010 3:48 PM | Report abuse

Oops, that should be $6.2M/yr for Semin, not the $7.2M in my math. The range for him includes the following players:

Cammalleri 6.0
DSedin 6.1
Vanek 7.2
Gaborik 7.5

For calculating his worth, you have to exclude players except UFA deals, but I think the Vanek deal is a valid comparison. If I'm Semin, I want Gaborik money (but gaborik has done just a little bit more) and if mcPhee I want the lower end.

Posted by: tominsocal1 | November 11, 2010 3:54 PM | Report abuse

Oh yeah, Dany Heatley at 7.5 is also a comparable for Semin.

Posted by: tominsocal1 | November 11, 2010 4:02 PM | Report abuse

Game day! Refer to Das Rhino40's post from earlier in the week for predictions

http://voices.washingtonpost.com/capitalsinsider/semyon-varlamov/semyon-varlamov-eager-to-g.html

@tom-I think Semin could get Gaborik money if he went on the market. $6.2 million would be a hometown discount. Backstrom's cap hit is $6.7 million, but his actual salary increases from $6.0-8.0 over the 10 years. I don't think such a deal could be worked out with Semin.

Re: Kovalchuk

I know it's common to place the Devils woes at the skates of Kovy, but he's hardly the problem. Kovy's cap hit is less than Backstrom's and the Devils don't have a player making Ovi money. Kovy is more than worth his cap hit now. His contract won't really become an issue until his declining years when he is expected to retire or go to the KHL. It's the other bloated contracts and the injuries that are killing that team. Of course, just like the Pens, it's too early to write off the Devils. Last year this time, the Rangers looked like a lock for the playoffs.

Posted by: ablake70 | November 11, 2010 4:15 PM | Report abuse

ablake70: You can't compare Backie and Semin situations. Backie was 10-yr deal that was 4 yrs RFA and 6 yrs UFA. You can assume the 4 yrs RFA would be "more than Kessel" so let's give Backie 6.0 each for those 4 yrs. That leaves $43M for the other 6 yrs or just over $7M/yr.

With backie's UFA yrs at $7M, it's easy to justify for Semin a slightly lower amount on the Caps. $6.2M is hometown discount - he might go for that. OTOH, they might do a deal closer to $7M that compromises between hometown discount and UFA value. I would think Semin is comfortable here and that is more important than just absolute dollars. We all like to enjoy our jobs and have comaraderie at work, and he has that in DC.

Posted by: tominsocal1 | November 11, 2010 4:24 PM | Report abuse

@Tom. I have seen this is response to the article http://sports.yahoo.com/nhl/blog/puck_daddy/post/What-We-Learned-The-truth-about-ESPN-s-pursuit-?urn=nhl-283325.

On MAF. Having gone to school in the subberbs of Pittsburgh I still have plenty of friends in the area who are Pens fans. There are very few who don't still support MAF and the ones that don't are taking a lot of heat for givining up on him so soon. Even when I show career stats to the friends who still think MAF is a great goalie and show him his career save % is the same as Johnson's and that Johnson has a better GAA they give me some stupid excuse and talk about his Cup. Now I don't how the organization feels about him but he still has the support of a majority of the fans so there isn't pressure from the fans to make any kind of a move right now. Of course that could always change if he doesn't turn it around at some point.

Posted by: icehammer97 | November 11, 2010 4:28 PM | Report abuse

@tominsocal1

I agree. Backs and Semin's situations are different. That why I think Semin's cap hit will be higher than Backstrom's, unless he takes a hometown discount or gets a Kovy like deal. Semin just doesn't have enough good left to significantly lower his cap hit.

Posted by: ablake70 | November 11, 2010 4:35 PM | Report abuse

If OV-errated had half the work ethic and discipline that Stamkos has, he'd have a ring or two by now and be a worthy mention among the class of Gretzky, Lemieux, Crosby and now Stamkos.

What a shame and waste of talent, maybe OV will finally get it by the time he reaches 28, if he isn't busted up by then, after 5+ playoff failures.

Posted by: BigGameSid | November 11, 2010 4:45 PM | Report abuse

BigGameSid:
i'll admit - you got some nads on you for showing up here after last nights showing against the B's

is this your prediction that stamkos will be hoisting the cup at the end of this season?

Posted by: Capt_Kirk_in_AZ | November 11, 2010 5:10 PM | Report abuse

Someone sounds bitter... How's the view from down there Sid? Enjoy the free-fall!

Posted by: wcsyde78 | November 11, 2010 5:14 PM | Report abuse

@ The biggest difference between the Caps and Tampa...they have a GM.

Yzerman is the real deal.

Mcphee is a hack.

Posted by: chrisclarksucks | November 11, 2010 3:34 PM

What big splash had Yzerman made with the Bolts so far?

He got a coach, and traded for Simon Gagne?? Who is hurt ALL the time. Maybe Ive missed something??

Posted by: Capsfannmiss | November 11, 2010 5:27 PM | Report abuse

BigLameCindy...

Does this mean you are getting on your knees are for Stamkos now? Have you jumped bandwagons or are you working two at once? I could get you a job here in LA, someone willing to do "that" gets paid more.

Like I've said before. It's ok man, we get it. You wish you could be OVI. You wish you could get the attention that only the world's most dynamic hockey player could get.

I'm sorry your family doesn't give you the attention you so desperately need. I'm sorry no one at school talks to you. I'm sorry no one on the Pens boards really wants to hear what you have to say. But we love you! I know for me I usually get a good laugh when I read your posts.

Now run along, I think Yo Gabba Gabba is on now. I know you don't want to miss that!

Posted by: natresgroup | November 11, 2010 5:28 PM | Report abuse

@tominsocal - hearing about ESPN's interest, I was thinking the same thing. Either way, the price is going up. I kind of like the NHL on Versus, myself but...Since there are thirty teams then for each $34 mil more than the current contract, the cap should go up by about 1 mil (a crude calc). So we can expect more cap space, but not much more than an extra 5 mil, I don't think.

you're probably right on Semin but I hope they can get him for about 6 mil per. And that they can Green in that range, also. The other high number players were either insane signings or franchise player types.

Posted by: RedLitYogi | November 11, 2010 5:41 PM | Report abuse

The biggest difference between the Caps and Tampa...they have a GM.

Yzerman is the real deal.

Mcphee is a hack.

Posted by: chrisclarksucks | November 11, 2010 3:34 PM | Report abuse

Yeah, look at the bunch of yahoos McPhee has assembled on this so-called "team." GMGM has obviously screwed up everything royally. Any coach or other GM in the league would reject this group of players in DC in a heartbeat, lowly bunch they are.

Posted by: Justafan | November 11, 2010 5:51 PM | Report abuse

Katie:
please - no twitter for tonights game

Posted by: Capt_Kirk_in_AZ | November 11, 2010 5:54 PM | Report abuse

Like I've said before. It's ok man, we get it. You wish you could be OVI. You wish you could get the attention that only the world's most dynamic hockey player could get.

Posted by: natresgroup
---------------------------------

Why would I wish to be someone who has questionable work ethic?

Why would I wish to be someone who has god given talent but refuses to change and can't realize his full ability?

Why would I wish to be someone so immature, egotistical and generally a poor role model for kids?

Why would I wish to be someone so narrow minded and shallow?

Maybe you should stop getting on your knees to OVI pretending he's god's gift to DC and realize that he has major flaws, both as a person and hockey player.

Posted by: BigGameSid | November 11, 2010 6:03 PM | Report abuse

BigGameSid:
i'll admit - you got some nads on you for showing up here after last nights showing against the B's

is this your prediction that stamkos will be hoisting the cup at the end of this season?

Posted by: Capt_Kirk_in_AZ | November 11, 2010 5:10 PM
------------------------------------

It's OK, B's are still real Cup contenders and have very few weaknesses. I didn't honestly expect the B's to run the table on a team like the Caps.

Stamkos isn't T-bay, I just think he's proving to be a truly elite player on and off the ice, unlike you know who.

Posted by: BigGameSid | November 11, 2010 6:07 PM | Report abuse

As for the Pens, they have goalie problems and that's the bottom line. When your goaltending is playing really poor, it makes the entire team look bad, it's a given. I'm not worried one bit, they'll figure it out, get back on track and most importantly make the playoffs, where they've PROVEN to show up. 2x SCF and 1x Cup winner the last 3 years... not to mention Olympics... I'll take that over what the Caps had over that span.

Posted by: BigGameSid | November 11, 2010 6:10 PM | Report abuse

BigLameCindy...

If you actually paid attention to our posts instead of just spewing off one-sided garbage you would see that a lot of people here get on OVI for some of his "flaws". Of course he's not perfect but he's on OUR TEAM. He's the most dynamic player in hockey who tons of people pay to see play and yes he has faults.

Just shut up, go back to your boards and let us talk about OUR players on OUR team. If you're gonna stay here then actually read what people say before you come in and spew stuff that you think we've never heard or even said ourselves.

I know for a fact other Pens fans have come on here and actually had conversations and discussions with Caps fans. They don't just spew the same ol' stuff and run away. Your act is old get over the fact that Ovi's not perfect, we have.

Posted by: natresgroup | November 11, 2010 6:14 PM | Report abuse

The Pens won the Olympics too? Does Orpik know that?

Posted by: wcsyde78 | November 11, 2010 6:15 PM | Report abuse

I know for a fact other Pens fans have come on here and actually had conversations and discussions with Caps fans. They don't just spew the same ol' stuff and run away. Your act is old get over the fact that Ovi's not perfect, we have.

Posted by: natresgroup
----------------------------------------

What do you mean by "run away"? I don't avoid any posts directed at me except the kind of posts that you make since they have absolutely nothing to do with hockey and are just silly attempts to insult me personally. Unlike you, I don't attempt to insult any poster here, I'm just more critical of the Caps than the typical Caps fan. So I prefer to ignore people like you. Maybe I'm even a closet Caps fan as others suggest, so that gives me the same rights as you do to criticize them?

As for spewing the same stuff, all fans talk about the same problems with their team over and over again, they have a right to esp if they are recurring, deep problems.. the things I've said are pretty significant, no? Maybe people aren't talking about it enough because things haven't changed for years now with this team and the same problems are still there.

Posted by: BigGameSid | November 11, 2010 6:23 PM | Report abuse

The biggest difference between the Caps and Tampa...they have a GM.

Yzerman is the real deal.

Mcphee is a hack.

Posted by: chrisclarksucks | November 11, 2010 3:34 PM | Report abuse

WOW! Pretty bold statement for someone with 2 months experience. He must be an amazing GM!

Posted by: CTCapsPhan | November 11, 2010 6:24 PM | Report abuse

"I'm just more critical of the Caps than the typical Caps fan."

Posted by: BigGameSid | November 11, 2010 6:23 PM

actually - you pretty much come on here and just trash ovi. some of your points are valid - but mostly its trashing to try and get a reaction from caps fans here. some would consider that being a troll.

Posted by: Capt_Kirk_in_AZ | November 11, 2010 6:29 PM | Report abuse

cindy...

you win, we have deep problems. it's nice to know that the Pens and now your new team the Lighnting have absolutely none. i'm glad it was YOU who broke the news!

ATTENTION CAPS FANS. WE HAVE DEEP, DEEP, TROUBLING PROBLEMS. PLEASE THANK BIGLAMECINDY FOR OPENING OUR EYES TO OUR DEEP SEEDED PROBLEMS! THANK YOU BIGLAMECINDY WE, THE FANS, WILL MAKE ALL THE NEEDED CHANGES RIGHT NOW.

good thing you're a pens fan so you don't have to worry about OUR problems.

You know our owner, Ted Leonsis has his email up somewhere. Email him with all your concerns about our team and OVI, he can actually do something about it.

Posted by: natresgroup | November 11, 2010 6:35 PM | Report abuse

Is this really worth your time BigGameSid?

Posted by: danman2 | November 11, 2010 7:04 PM | Report abuse

The reason I ask if its worth your time is because I honestly couldn't name one Penguins blog or website to discuss the Penguins. I've never been to one nor do I care to go to one. Oh yeah, except for that one that was being investigated cuz a Penguins fan said he was going to murder Ovechkin. I've heard of that one. Go hang out there.

Posted by: danman2 | November 11, 2010 7:27 PM | Report abuse

I like to imagine that the person behind the 'BigGameSid' id is actually Crosby. I do this because it makes me laugh.

Posted by: wcsyde78 | November 11, 2010 7:29 PM | Report abuse

(Almost) everyone on this team knows their role and plays it well. Flash either doesn't know his or doesn't play it well. He just doesn't seem to fit in. He's a good hockey player, but it seems like he upsets the team chemistry. Alzner and Carlson are both good, but they need more time to mature. Each NHL game they play they will mature. Semin is a effing BEAST! Incredible offinsive insticts and he's playing a great defensive game too. A couple of tweaks and this time could be unbeatable.

The needs of this team are very obvious if they want to go the distance in the playoffs...

Posted by: sca187 | November 11, 2010 7:43 PM | Report abuse

Do you hear me GMGM or are you busy embalming dead bodies?

Posted by: sca187 | November 11, 2010 7:47 PM | Report abuse

Alzner needs a role in the next Starsky and Hutch movie with that molestache.

Posted by: sca187 | November 11, 2010 7:51 PM | Report abuse

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