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Bolt of inspiration

The Lightning have one three in a row to climb within a point of sixth place in the conference. (Photo by Scott Cunningham/NHLI via Getty Images)

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The Lightning have one three in a row to climb within a point of sixth place in the conference. (Photo by Scott Cunningham/NHLI via Getty Images)

Steven Stamkos has clearly established himself as a front-line NHL player, but Steve Downie might not be far behind.

Downie is never going to have the elite offensive upside Stamkos does, but he’s rapidly becoming a very useful player for Tampa while skating on the top line with Stamkos and Martin St-Louis.

A lot of people are crediting Bolts coach Rick Tocchet with helping Downie even out his game. Tocchet, after all, was the kind of rugged goal-scorer teams kill for and he’s done a nice job of advancing the 22-year-old Downie down that same path.

The 40-goal seasons Tocchet racked up might be a bit beyond Downie’s reach, but it’s easy to see him developing into a guy who gets you 25 goals while making life absolutely miserable for opposing defenseman with his tenacious forecheck.

Keeping his emotions in check will always be the challenge for Downie, but the fact he’s more consistently on the right side of the line these days has helped him take a significant step forward in his career.

THE HOCKEY NEWS POWER RANKINGS
RK.
TEAM
LW
L10
THE SCOOP
1
Washington Capitals
1
10-0-0
Need four straight wins to set the NHL record for consecutive victories
2
Los Angeles Kings
5
9-1-0
While they were rumored suitors in the Ilya Kovalchuk sweepstakes, they don’t seem to need him, winning each of their last nine games
3
San Jose Sharks
2
8-1-1
New Shark Niclas Wallin has a history of scoring at big moments during the playoffs
4
Phoenix Coyotes
8
7-3-0
If this team makes the playoffs, Dave Tippett has to be coach of the year
5
Chicago Blackhawks
4
5-4-1
Jonathan Toews is rolling, scoring at a point-per-game clip over his past 11
6
Vancouver Canucks
3
8-2-0
Ryan Kesler is on pace for 70-plus points after setting a career high with 59 last season
7
Ottawa Senators
7
9-1-0
Let's see how goalie Brian Elliott holds up down the stretch
8
New Jersey Devils
11
4-5-1
Adding an all-world talent like Ilya Kovalchuk means this will be one tough team to beat in the playoffs
9
Pittsburgh Penguins
9
5-4-1
Regular season or not, Pens can't be blowing 4-1 leads to Ovie and the Caps
10
Buffalo Sabres
6
2-7-1
The Sabres are falling quickly, having lost four straight while only winning two of their past 10
11
Colorado Avalanche
10
6-4-0
Will Wojtek Wolski take his mom's advice and shoot the puck more?
12
Dallas Stars
13
6-4-0
Marty Turco appears to have won his starting job back, going 2-1 with a 1.00 GAA and .970 save percentage in his past three games
13
Tampa Bay Lightning
20
7-2-1
There's enough top-end talent on this team to put a serious scare in a first round playoff opponent
14
Calgary Flames
16
3-4-3
Brought in to provide offense, Matt Stajan and Niklas Hagman have one point each in the four games since joining the club
15
Anaheim Ducks
19
6-4-0
Ryan Getzlaf is heading towards the Olympics on a tear, scoring six points in his past three games
16
Minnesota Wild
21
5-4-1
No Harding? No Backstrom? No Problem. Rookie Anton Khudobin went 2-0 with an 0.87 GAA and a .979 save percentage in his first two NHL games last week
17
Philadelphia Flyers
12
5-5-0
Philly is usually lethal on the power play, but the Flyers have struggled with the man advantage of late
18
Detroit Red Wings
15
3-5-2
Pavel Datsyuk is recovering his scoring touch after a slow start, scoring nine points in his past seven games
19
Montreal Canadiens
22
5-3-2
Team that struggles to score already is missing Mike Cammalleri, Andrei Kostitsyn and Benoit Pouliot right now
20
Nashville Predators
14
3-6-1
When your two leading scorers (Patric Hornqvist and J-P Dumont) are tied with 36 points, you've got a problem
21
Carolina Hurricanes
23
7-3-0
Eric Staal is a big reason the Canes have won seven of their past 10, scoring 14 points over that span
22
Boston Bruins
27
1-6-3
Snapped their 10-game losing streak, but still play 10 of their next 12 on the road
23
Florida Panthers
17
4-5-1
Asking too much of Tomas Vokoun; the Cats haven't scored more than two goals in 10 games
24
Atlanta Thrashers
18
4-5-1
Losing Ilya Kovalchuk hurts, but maybe – maybe – some of that pain will be relieved when Kari Lehtonen returns between the pipes this week
25
New York Rangers
24
3-7-0
It's worth rolling the dice on pending-UFA Olli Jokinen for two months, especially since it meant getting rid of Ales Kotalik's contract
26
St. Louis Blues
25
4-4-2
When your two leading scorers (Andy McDonald and Brad Boyes) are tied with 35 points, you've got a problem
27
Columbus Blue Jackets
26
6-4-0
2-0 under new coach Claude Noel; Steve Mason has given up just one goal in those contests
28
Toronto Maple Leafs
29
3-5-2
Two games as a Leaf, two shutouts for Jean-Sebastien Gigeure
29
New York Islanders
28
2-8-0
Seven straight without a win
30
Edmonton Oilers
30
2-7-1
Shawn Horcoff has just 20 points in 52 games, not nearly enough for a guy getting an average yearly salary of $5.5 million

The Hockey News ranks the teams 1-30 each Monday based on a combination of last week’s play and a squad’s overall outlook.

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