Martin St. Louis has ignored his supposed demise for 9 years

Written By kom nampuldu on Senin, 23 Februari 2015 | 18.18

This was the wisdom espoused by Brendan Shanahan, when the winger was 37, off to a dreadful start in his second season with the Rangers in 2007-08 and eulogies were already being penned on his Hall-of-Fame caliber career.

"When you're 27 and have a cough, people figure you have a cold," he told The Post columnist who had rushed to catalog Shanahan's demise. "When you're 37 and have a cough, people react like you have pneumonia.

"A 37-year-old can have a cold, too, you know."

Martin St. Louis, 39 and having just endured a cold spell befitting this northeast winter, understands exactly what Shanahan meant.

"Yeah, for sure," the winger told The Post before the Rangers 4-3 shootout victory over the Blue Jackets at the Garden on Sunday. "People look at you differently and draw different conclusions when you're older.

"But I don't look at myself differently, not at all."

St. Louis is looking much better these days to everyone else after scoring twice and adding a shootout marker against Columbus. The goals give St. Louis four in his last four games following an ungodly stretch in which the winger went 15 straight without one before breaking the schneid during Monday's third-period comeback at the Coliseum.

"You're always looking for that one good play, that one shot to get you going," St. Louis said after the pockmarked victory that moved the Blueshirts to within two points of the division-leading Islanders while holding three games in hand. "You're always that one goal away from feeling good about yourself."

The two goals against the Jackets' Curtis McIlhenny boosted St. Louis' total to 18. That's not only second on the Rangers to Rick Nash's 37, it is 11th in the NHL among right wings.

That's not all that shabby for a guy for whom eulogies had been prepared, especially so with St. Louis on the final year of his contract and perhaps destined to go on the open market for the first time in his career if he and the Rangers are unable to agree on a new deal before July 1.

"That's not on my mind; I'm only focused on doing whatever I can do to help this team win," St. Louis said. "This is not about my age, or anything else.

"When I was 30, I had a 60-point year and people thought I was never going to be the same player I had been. The following year I had 100 points."

That was a flashback to Tampa Bay. In 2003-04, then then-28 year-old led the league in scoring with 94 points (38-56) while capturing the Hart Trophy in the Lightning's Stanley Cup season. There was no NHL the following year, wiped out by Owners' Lockout II, but when play resumed in 2005-06, a 30-year-old St. Louis recorded 61 points (31-30).

The next year, 2006-07, St. Louis went for a career-high 102 points with 43 goals and 59 assists. The man has a memory, but his career isn't one. Not now. Not yet.

"For an athlete, the mind-set can be fragile; confidence comes and goes, and that doesn't have anything to do with age," St. Louis said. "When you have confidence, you want to hang on to it as long as possible and when you lose it, you want to get it back as quickly as possible.

"The difference when you're younger is that you pay more attention to goals and assists, instead of putting that aside and concentrating on doing whatever is necessary to help the team win, which is where I am now. A lot of times, by focusing on goals or points, you can lose sight of the big picture.

"The big picture is the team winning games."

The Rangers are 7-1-2 in 10 games since Henrik Lundqvist was ruled out for an indefinite, extended period of time. They are not only closing in on first place in the division, they are only three points behind Eastern Conference-leading Montreal while holding a game in hand on the Canadiens.

"We've found ways," St. Louis said. "That's what it's about."

St. Louis' play has improved immeasurably over the last week following a stretch in which he was rarely part of the picture, either big or small. He and linemates Chris Kreider and Derek Stepan formed the Blueshirts' most dangerous unit in this one and in three of the last four games, beginning with the 6-5 victory at the Coliseum.

"You try and pull your weight and do what you can for your linemates and your team, but sometimes your linemates make the plays that get you going," St. Louis said. "That's the way it works."

That is the way it has worked throughout a decorated career for St. Louis, universally renowned for his work ethic on and off the ice, in season and during the offseason.

"You have to be mentally strong as an athlete in order to be able to pull through these things," he said. "You can't feel sorry for yourself. There's no time for that."

This is one case in which time is not of the essence, at least not if the time frame has anything to do with the past.

"I feel the same on the ice as I always have," St. Louis said. "There's no question about that."

And by the way? Martin St. Louis doesn't even have a cough.


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