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St-Louis' set-ups no passing fancy

The Hockey News

The Hockey News

Everybody knows Martin St-Louis is shifty. But a quick look at his numbers this season makes you wonder if his entire game is shifting.

As one half of the NHL’s most feared twosome, St-Louis is on pace for 71 assists after 30 games. That’s what happens when you’re feeding pucks to Vincent Lecavalier, the reigning Rocket Richard Trophy winner who’s once again hovering amidst the top goal-scorers in the league.

Of which, St-Louis isn’t one.

In fact, while the frightening Bolt is well on his way to establishing a career high for helpers (his current best is 59), he’s on pace for his lowest goal total since 2001-02.

So, is St-Louis, whose 10 goals projects to 27 over a full season, morphing into more of a set-up guy?

“It’s not like I’m looking to pass more, it’s just tough not to playing with a guy like Vinny, cause it just seems like he always gets open,” said St-Louis, who has eclipsed the 30-goal barrier each of the past four seasons. “So I’m not looking, I’m just trying to play the game and make the play that’s there. It just happens Vinny’s a guy who gets open.”

No denying that. Big as he is, Lecavalier can be astonishingly elusive on the ice, making it tempting for St-Louis to load his fellow Quebecer up for a lethal one-timer.

But any extra passes being made by St-Louis certainly aren’t the result of any cajoling by Tampa coach John Tortorella.

“We’d like to see him shoot the puck more,” Tortorella said. “If there’s one deficiency in the really good year he’s had so far, it’s (getting in) the mindset to shoot the puck more.”

So much so that Tortorella has toyed with the sublime chemistry Lecavalier and St-Louis share as an attempt to get the former Hart Trophy winner firing more shots.

“That’s why I split those guys up so much, because they play so well together they end up trying to pass the puck too much. They’re looking for each other too much,” Tortorella said. “But Marty’s beginning to rectify that, he’s beginning to shoot the puck more. We don’t want him as a playmaker. We want him to play his game and score goals. It’ll come. He’s played very well. Those goals will come.”

As long as the goals continue to come in some form, whether the genesis is a slick pass to a teammate or a sick shot to the back of the net, St-Louis is content. He merely takes what the defense gives him and, ultimately, it’s the bottom line that most interests him.

“I just worry about playing hard and helping my team win,” said St-Louis after a careful moment of contemplation when asked about Tortorella’s desire to see him shoot more. “Some nights I’ll shoot more than others depending on what’s the play to be made.”

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