Has Father Time caught up with Marty St. Louis?
Marty St. Louis is slumping and it isn’t pretty to watch. Things may have reached a boiling point when the proud veteran was benched along with Derek Stepan for the last 7:58 against Colorado.
[su_quote cite=”Larry Brooks” url=”http://nypost.com/2015/02/12/rangers-bury-avalanche-with-late-offensive-outburst/”]“I’m not playing with a lot of confidence right now,” St. Louis told The Post…“I’ve gone through stretches like this before, and it’s not a fun place to be, but fortunately the team is winning.”[/su_quote]
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We are now 14 games without a goal for the career 384 goal scorer. He has 1 point in his last 9 games and just 5 points during his goal scoring drought. Add on the fact that he’s a -4 during this stretch and it only has to weigh on him more.
An ugly turnover is what earned MSL his benching last night. Of course his mistake wound up in the back of the Rangers net. “I’m very disappointed with that mistake. You never want to make a mistake that leads to a goal,” St. Louis told reporters after the game. So the question is this, are we looking at a normal slump or is this something more?
Marty St. Louis is not getting any younger, that is just a cold hard fact. So is this a byproduct of father time or a series of other factors? Today’s athletes take much better care of themselves and Marty St Louis is no exception. However, in order to examine if he can produce today and past 40 let’s look at a couple of players from the modern era to get our answer. For that, we start with our very own Mark Messier.
Mark was nicknamed “The Moose” in Edmonton because he was built like one. Messier was the embodiment of what a power center was in the NHL for much of the 80’s and 90’s. We all know how great Mess was, but we’re looking for clues on how St. Louis will produce in his 40’s. Here are Mark’s stats from 38 on:
When you see these numbers you start to worry if the bottom is about to drop off soon with St. Louis. Messier was far from a point a game player by this time and his style took a toll on his body. However, the sharpest decline comes at the magic number of 41. But, St. Louis is not a power forward, he is a finesse guy. So is there a better comparable? Let’s look at recently retired, Teemu Selanne.
Selanne was a finesse forward much like Marty St. Louis, who learned to make room for himself on the ice by using his speed and brains. One glance at Teemu’s stats and you can see a glimpse of what the future could hold for St. Louis.
While Teemu may have dipped a bit at 39, he rebounded in style at the age of 40! 80 points in 73 games is mind blowing. Sure he slipped the next season to 66 points, but he played every game and was fairly productive.
The numbers do reveal that his decline started at 41 also and continued to fade with limited playing time to boot. Can Marty St. Louis defy the odds and produce past 41?
Only he and time will answer that question, but there is no reason to believe that St. Louis can’t start produce again this season at a high level. This is a slump and not a tolling of the bell signaling and end to his career.
Don’t believe me? Derek Stepan has 1G and 3A in his last nine games. Is his struggle causing MSL’s slump or is it vice versa? The only way to find out is to break the line apart and see who can get going. If Stepan immediately went on a scoring binge and MSL continued to struggle, then I would worry.
Last night, I didn’t see an “old man” on his last legs. He can still motor as fast as any player half his age. He still has a shot and the ability to see the open ice, it’s just not going well for him right now.
One thing for sure is this, MSL is one of the proudest Rangers out there. Last night he said, “I’m going to do whatever it takes to try and get it together.” I have no reason to believe otherwise.