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Watch out Ovi and Sid; Steven is on his way

Image (1) Stamkos-thumb-250x156-7118.jpg for post 262

It seems that everyone is focused on the race between Alex Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby for the scoring title, and even more enthralled by what will happen with the rivalry if they tie. Yet there is one name that could upset the balance, and put a major wrench in the neverending battle between Ovechkin and Crosby:

Steven Stamkos.

In just his second season in the NHL, Stamkos is just two goals behind the NHL-leading Ovechkin and Crosby with 42 on the season. He’s been scoring at an Ovechkin-esque pace ever since the Olympic break as well, with seven goals in five games. Here’s another impressive stat: Stamkos could win the scoring title while taking considerably less shots than Ovechkin, who we all know scores simply because he puts an insane amount of pucks on net.

The Tampa Bay Lightning take on the Washington Capitals tonight, and Stamkos will get a first-hand attempt at overthrowing Ovechkin’s lead. This will be another matchup of two teams on opposite ends of the competitive spectrum, and it’s most likely going to be another big win for the Capitals at home.

Yet that raises an important question: is Stamkos’ accomplishment this season more impressive than Ovechkin’s or Crosby’s scoring pace based on the fact that the team he is on simply isn’t that good? Ovechkin has Semin and Mike Green, Crosby has Malkin. Sure, Stamkos plays with Vincent Lecavalier and Martin St. Louis but they are shells of the players they once were.

Here’s a telling stat: Out of 42 goals this season, only three have been game-winning goals.

Personally, I’m hoping that Stamkos is able to pull it off and grab the lead from Crosby and Ovechkin. Those two superstars will always be the NHL’s top superstars, but the league needs new blood. That Stamkos plays for the Lightning is both tragic and a blessing; he won’t get the national recognition he deserves but hopefully he can bring some (good) attention back to Florida.

He’s not a flawless player, and he still has a very long way to go before he reaches the level of Ovechkin and Crosby. His assists are relatively low, and according to Cassie McClellan he’s a very one-dimensional player. But it’s just his second season; still time to grow and learn.

I know everyone loves to debate Ovi vs. Sid the Kid, but the NHL needs some new players in that game. Hopefully Stamkos is the guy.