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Wednesday, Oct 01, 2014
Tampa Bay Lightning

Bolts Beat: Secondary scoring a primary concern

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DETROIT — Six weeks into the season, scoring is not an issue for the Lightning.

Scoring through the lineup, however, could be better.

Entering the weekend, Tampa Bay averaged 3.27 goals per game, good for sixth in the league. But of the Lightning’s 49 goals entering Saturday, 13 had been scored by Steven Stamkos, which accounts for 26.5 percent of Tampa Bay’s offense.

To take that one step further, if you include the seven goals scored by captain Marty St. Louis, the team’s top two scorers had accounted for 40.8 percent of the offense.

One one hand, it’s comforting to know that Tampa Bay can rely on Stamkos and St. Louis to be there. The team’s dynamic duo certainly is capable of carrying the load and having those sort of game-breakers on the ice is a huge advantage for any team.

Stamkos in particular has been on a roll during the early part of the season. After failing to score in the first three games, Stamkos scored 13 in the next 12 and ranks with the league leaders in that category.

St. Louis has notched some key goals, including an overtime winner against Stanley Cup champion Chicago on Oct. 24.

The downside of having 40 percent of your offense come from two players is that invariably at some point, there will be some sort of slump. It will come.

That’s when you need others to pick up the offense to help support the game-breakers.

Valtteri Filppula is certainly capable of being one of those players, particularly on the power play, where he runs the unit off the half-wall. His ability to protect the puck is unmatched on this team, and really by few in the league, which allows him to find open lanes for shooting opportunities — if only he would shoot more.

Teddy Purcell, who is prone to extended scoring slumps such as the one he was riding with one point in nine games entering Saturday, needs to rediscover the consistency he has shown for most of the past two seasons. In his own way, Purcell is a game-breaker with a top-level wrist shot when he chooses to utilize it.

Ryan Malone, who started the season on the top line, had just one goal in the first 15 games and needs to find his offense.

Tyler Johnson, who led the American Hockey League in goals last season, is still figuring it out at the NHL level, as is Ondrej Palat, the leading playoff scorer in the AHL last season.

Richard Panik is a highly skilled player and quite frankly it was a bit of a surprise to see him without a goal through 15 games. But like many others on the team, he needs to have more of a shooter’s mentality.

Brett Connolly looks like a more-confident player now than during his rookie season, and eventually his talent should make him a consistent scorer.

This group of secondary forwards needs to start providing more consistent secondary scoring because as dynamic as the team’s top two scorers are, it’s nearly impossible to expect both of them to carry the load for a full season.

eerlendsson@tampatrib.com

(813) 259-7835

twitter: @erlendssonTBO

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