So you tuned in to see Stamkos and he only plays 6 minutes, huh? Well, this is why:
I hate to admit it, but he looks a little scared out there. Maybe not scared, but timid. You cant always have the puck in open ice, flying through the neutral zone. He hasn't won battles against the boards, he makes nervous decisions with the puck in his own end, he gets knocked off the puck way too easily, and there have been a couple scraps where he just stood there and watched a teammate get pummeled. Now, I'm not saying that Stamkos should be getting in fights and maybe the coaches told him not to get involved, but come on, show a little grit kid.
Now, Vrbata hasn't helped him out at all, and they don't know who to play on his other side. It does however, hurt the team, when your "2nd line center" only plays 6 to 8 minutes. That means, you have 2 top six wingers skating with different centers, which creates a hodge podge of lines. This is where it gets tricky for the coaches. Do they sacrifice the teams wellbeing by having their 2nd line center only play 6 minutes a games? Or do they go against their plan of having Stamkos play with talented wingers and move him to a bottom line? It has been no secret that the team has struggled to maintain offense throughout the game so far. And it benefits nobody if this team starts falling apart and we're struggling to beat Atlanta every night.
But maybe the most telling sign of why Stammer is not out on the ice is because THE TEAM IS ALWAYS KILLING PENALTIES! The Bolts were on the PK 9 times last night. Thats 18 of 60 minutes that the kid cant play. That means he played 6 minutes out of about 42-44. Which averages out to about 14% of the ice time. Still might be a little low, but take into consideration everything else that I wrote and its not that awful.
So far Melrose has decided to keep Stamkos playing with upper tier talent but limit his ice time (a lot). This is only his 3rd professional game. And he logged a hell of a lot of minutes during the preseason. So I fully expect his ice time to increase as the year goes on, and he gains more confidence out there. But for now its a combination of Stamkos not looking confident and a problem creating more offense for the team and an abundance of penalties that is keeping him off the ice.
BTW, this is not a "doomsday" post about Stamkos. He will be fine. He will most likely be great. This is just honest analysis on why he is not playing.