Three weeks have passed since Hockey Canada announced its 25-player men's roster for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. And in that time span, the Tampa Bay Lightning have remained near the top of the Eastern Conference without star forward Steven Stamkos.
Playing a key role in the Lightning's recent success has been the play of veteran forward Martin St. Louis, who was passed over by his own general manager Steve Yzerman for a spot on the Canadian Olympic team. The veteran winger and team captain has been on a tear since the Olympic team announcement, racking up 14 points in 10 games since Jan. 7.
"I don't think its motivation to be honest," said St. Louis, whose Lightning were set to face the Maple Leafs on Tuesday. "I feel like I played some good hockey this year - I've had some good bounces - but I don't think (being left off the Olympic team) is motivation.
"I mean, I'm motivated for Game 1 or Game 10. To play in this league and be successful you need to be motivated. It's been like that my whole career. I don't think these last 10 games I've been more motivated."
St. Louis, who captured his second career Art Ross Trophy last season as the league leader in scoring, also grabbed the spotlight with the first four-goal game of his career against San Jose on Jan. 18.
And while he's taken much of the offensive workload in Stamkos's absence, he believes it's been a team effort.
"At first it was a little shock, obviously, to loose Stammer," he said. "But once the dust settled, we realized we're where we're at without him.
"You have to juggle some lines and find a little bit of an identity. I think we settled down and played some pretty good hockey. We have a lot of young guys that have accelerated in terms of their progress with the amount of ice time they're getting (and) they've done well."
A lot of credit also goes to great chemistry with his teammates. Summer signing Valtteri Filppula is second in team scoring, while forwards Tyler Johnson, Alex Killorn and Ondrej Palat are making big contributions at both ends of the ice.
"If you told us before the season started where we'd be after Game 53 knowing all the adversity - not that I didn't believe we'd be there - I would think a lot of things would have to go right for us to be here," said St. Louis. "Things have gone well considering all the adversity we've gone through."
And at age 38, St. Louis himself is still going strong at a point-a-game pace.
"I'd like to think that I've been pretty consistent the past few years," he said. "I expect myself to play like I have, so I don't think this year is better than others.
"Obviously I had to adjust a little bit not playing with Stammer and I kind of had to re-invent myself a little with shooting the puck a little bit more. It's hard to shoot as much as I have when you play with a 60-goal guy."