Saturday afternoon in Tampa, Martin St-Louis scored three goals in the first period and another in the second, becoming the first Lightning player to score four in a game since Chris Kontos achieved the feat in the first game in the Lightning's franchise history, way back in 1992.
Here's all four of Marty's goals:
If Team Canada GM Steve Yzerman and his selection committee could have a do-over on choosing the roster after St-Louis's latest offensive outburst, do you think they'd change their decision?
Not a chance.
Because if there's one thing St-Louis has always demonstrated, it's his ability to put up points — a ton of them — playing with just about anybody. He's been playing with a couple of rookies, Tyler Johnson and Ondrej Palat, and his production has been steady as ever. He's on pace for 82 points, a season removed from winning the Art Ross Trophy. So no, it wasn't a lack of point production that kept St-Louis off the Canadian roster.
The selection committee, along with coach Mike Babcock, reportedly mapped out situational lineups in great detail, concluding St-Louis wouldn't fit their blueprint. They considered even-strength, power play and penalty kill setups of many variations, 4-on-4, 3-on-3, trailing in the waning minutes, leading in the waning minutes, etc. St-Louis was denied a roster spot in favor of less productive players with more specialized skill sets. Jeff Carter, for instance, is one of the game's best at scoring with a wrister off the rush. Apparently, that's an asset Yzerman and co. envisioned would be of greater necessity than including one of the most dominant and unique offensive players of his generation.
The St-Louis omission was a head-scratcher, worthy of all the scrutiny it's received. I've still yet to read any compelling rationale to explain it. But, certainly, the men who chose to exclude the Tampa Bay Lightning captain did so thoughtfully. Still, their thoughtfulness amounted to a laughable conclusion.
Of all right wingers with Canadian passports, only Corey Perry is better than St-Louis, and even that's debatable. When I scratched out a projected roster for my home nation, St-Louis was on the second line alongside Steven Stamkos, after contemplating whether he'd work better on the first line with Sidney Crosby. At no point was he left off my roster. No, that's the kind of distorted conclusion only produced by over-analysis, likely the same folly that clouded the judgement of Team Canada's management.
Sometimes, it's OK to choose one player over another based on criteria like handedness or height or speed, but only when the players you're choosing between are neck-and-neck in the skill department. But when evaluating precisely how St-Louis will fit on your team, it's wisest to simply include him and let his talent take care of the rest.
THE BIG PAVELSKI
Despite St-Louis's historic offensive outburst Saturday afternoon, the Lightning fell behind with one minute to play in the second on a goal by Joe Pavelski, giving him a natural hat trick. The Sharks held the 5-4 lead and narrowly snuck away with the victory.
Rarely does a hat trick become a footnote, but today's game was one of those occasions. And Pavelski, who has been shifted from his ideal position at center to both the right and left wings this year, registered the hatty today as a left winger. He's been lining up with Joe Thornton and Brent Burns on the No. 1 line for the past 14 games, and has 12 goals in that span.
Here's the second goal of the afternoon for Pavelski: