Before the shortened NHL season started I made three predictions about the Tampa Bay Lightning
- They would score in bunches. (Check! They're third in the NHL in goals per game.)
- Steven Stamkos and Martin St. Louis would lead the team in scoring. (Check! They're not only 1-2 on the club, but league-wide heading into Friday's action.)
- They would be a playoff team. (As Meatloaf said: Two out of three ain't bad.)
It's amazing to look at the league leaders in scoring
and see two players who will be golfing as soon as next week. And sorry, Lightning fans, the bad news doesn't stop there.
Despite their gaudy point totals, Stamkos and St Louis are a combined minus-5 (Stamkos is minus-5 himself, St Louis is even). In fact, St Louis only got himself out of the hole with his hat trick
against the Leafs on Wednesday night.
To say these stats are baffling would be an understatement, and I had to find out if anyone else had managed to have this kind of "success" in recent history (since the 1967 expansion).
To the archives!Finishing 1-2
Since 1967, we have seen teammates finish 1-2 in NHL scoring a total of 10 times. (Which is the best combo, you ask? Bobby Orr and Phil Esposito topped the scoring list together on five occasions). Of those 10, do you know how many times that team failed to make the playoffs? None. And to add insult to injury, six of those teams went on to win the Stanley Cup. Plus/minus
The NHL first started recording plus/minus in the 1967-68 expansion season. Of the 45 Art Ross trophy winners since then, only two finished the season with a minus rating. In 1967-68, Stan Mikita led the league in scoring with 87 points but finished a minus-3. The other player to do it is a name you might have heard of: Wayne Gretzky. The 1993-94 season would be the last time The Great One would top the league in points, but he also finished a dismal minus-25. Playoffs
If you told a team before the season that they would have the Art Ross Trophy winner but still not make the playoffs, they would think you're nuts, and with good reason. It has only happened twice in the post-Original Six era, most recently in 2001-02. Not only did Jarome Iginla lead the league in points with 96, his 52 goals were tops as well. But I think he could have scored 1,000 points and it wouldn't have helped the Flames make the post-season. They finished 15 points out of a playoff spot.
The other instance came in 1987-88 when Mario Lemieux won his first of six scoring titles but the Penguins were on the outside looking in when the playoffs rolled around (Interesting side note: Gretzky was injured for a chunk of that season, opening the door for Mario. Much like Sidney Crosby's injury did this year for St. Louis).
I suppose if you're a "glass half full" type of person you could point to the fact that St. Louis winning the Art Ross would make him the oldest player in league history
to do so, surpassing the previous record set by Gordie Howe. Or you may point out that his nine years between Art Ross trophies would also be an NHL record.
But the fact remains, for the Lightning to have the top two point-getters in the NHL and not make the playoffs is unacceptable, and you only have to look at recent history to prove it.
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