The Tampa Bay Lighting may miss the playoffs for the third consecutive season, but the future looks brighter in the ‘Sunshine State.’ And two of the main reasons for that rosy forecast are the play of Steve Downie and Steven Stamkos.
Stamkos was always supposed to develop into an elite player, but early in his rookie season it looked liked it would take some time. He came on at the end of the season and took another step forward at the World Championship in the spring. This season Stamkos has established himself as one of the league’s top snipers. The 20-year-old’s 42 goals put him third overall in the league, trailing only Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin.
Downie, on the other hand, was better known for his reckless behavior than his ability to contribute on the scoresheet before this season and his future in the league was questionable. But in 2009-10, the third-year right winger has set career highs in goals with 17 and assists with 23.
As important as his newfound offensive prowess is, Downie has tamed the beast within and is playing a much more disciplined game. Although his recent dangerous takedown on Sidney Crosby demonstrates Downie is still playing close to the edge.
Ken Campbell takes a closer look at the duo’s evolution.
For more on ‘Stammer and the Hammer’ check out Ken Campbell’s cover story in the March 29, 2010 edition of The Hockey News.
REPORTER: Ken Campbell | PRODUCER: Ted Cooper
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