Earlier this week, we looked at Steven Stamkos’ play at even strength in 2015-16. In short, the Lighning’s superstar forward has struggled this season during even strength play. Here’s a brief summary of some of the evidence put forth in the previous post to support this:
- Stamkos is on pace for his lowest even strength goal total in any full season he has played since his rookie campaign.
- Stamkos’ individual shot attempt rate is currently at a career-low and is in the bottom 50% of all NHL forwards
- His individual scoring chance rate is down a significant amount and at the lowest of his career.
- The average shot he has taken so far this season is almost three feet further from the net than the average shot over the course of his career.
Looking at Stamkos at an individual level is helpful in seeing that he hasn’t been nearly as effective or dangerous this season. But to try to uncover some of the reasons why Stamkos might be struggling will take more digging. To start, here’s a look at the Lightning’s rate of shot attempts when Stamkos is on the ice with certain teammates. These are the four forwards and two defensemen that Stamkos has skated the most minutes with since the start of the 2014-15 season.
The results here are a bit of a mixed bag. The Lightning have seen an increase in their rate of shot attempts when Stamkos is on the ice with three of the six teammates shown. There are also three teammates that the Lightning have seen a drop in shot attempts for when Stamkos is skating with them. The two players with the drastic drop off are Ryan Callahan and Alex Killorn.
Again, this is a bit of a mixed bag, so there’s not a takeaway that leaps off the page. But the two biggest drop-offs should be noted.
Next, let’s take a look at Stamkos’ individual shot attempts/60 when on the ice with all of the same teammates. These numbers are courtesy of Muneeb Alam.
This chart shows a lot less variety in results than the first. Stamkos’ individual shot attempts/60 are down across the board. In 2015-16, the range goes from Stamkos’ 11.25 shot attempts/60 when he’s on the ice with Victor Hedman to where he bottoms out at 8.75 shot attempts/60 when on the ice with Ryan Callahan.
While Callahan has been noticeably bad for Stamkos in both charts, the second chart shows the even strength troubles aren’t simply a Stamkos/Callahan issue. As an aside, Stamkos probably shouldn’t be skating so many minutes with Callahan regardless of these charts, but more so because Callahan is not a first-line caliber player.
It seems as if Stamkos’ even-strength struggles this season can’t be isolated to any one factor, bar one: Steven Stamkos. The Lightning as a team are shooting at a higher rate/60 this season, so it’s not a team issue. And no one line-mate or combination is dragging Stamkos down, as his numbers are down across the board.
As the Lightning attempt to improve upon their underwhelming start, getting their superstar forward again playing like a superstar should be their top priority.