Wednesday, July 24, 2013
Martin St. Louis, can you do that again?
By Paul Grant
Old guys can score. Just ask the defending Art Ross winner, Martin St. Louis.
Martin St. Louis entered the lockout-shortened season with a chip on his shoulder. His production had fallen 25 points in the previous season, down from the previous season's 99. Sure, he was still a leader on the Tampa Bay Lightning, but his age was becoming a factor and there were whispers that all that banging and grinding had worn down a determined but relatively diminutive player.
Short-season mojo: The Lightning were out of it pretty quickly in 2013, which can result in one of two things: Players pull the chute, letting minor injuries take them out of the lineup for extended periods of time, or they skate harder every shift because they are professionals. St. Louis fell into the latter category, as you might have guessed, and just kept on plugging with amazing consistency. According to Elias, St. Louis had 12 points in January (in six games), 13 in February (14 games), 18 in March (14 games) and 17 in April (14 games). In this case, it seemed like the shorter season benefited the shorter player.
Why it will be tough to repeat: The Southleast Division is gone; the Lightning are in the Metronome or something Division, which means nightly poundings at the hands of the Boston Bruins, Detroit Red Wings, Montreal Canadiens and Toronto Maple Leafs. Plus, the travel to take on these northern rivals isn't going to do the Florida teams any favors. And although his conditioning is rarely suspect, St. Louis is a full 38-years-old, which is older in hockey-player years when you take into account he's been in the league for 15 seasons.
Verdict: He won't win the Art Ross Trophy again -- he's a better bet to defend his Lady Byng title -- but St. Louis will find a way to put up a lot of points. He always does. Plus, he'll have newly acquired Valtteri Filppula as another option for a skilled center to feed. So, call this one a wash, even with all the factors working against St. Louis.