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SPIRIT OF ST. LOUIS

Downie said he refined his game while in Tampa under the guidance of Marty St. Louis
Monday, 11.25.2013 / 4:52 PM
By Anthony SanFilippo - Philadelphia Flyers Inside Reporter / Flyers Inside Out
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SPIRIT OF ST. LOUIS

SUNRISE, Fla. – When the Flyers arrive in Tampa tomorrow in preparation for their game Wednesday night against the Lightning, all the attention will be on the homecoming for Vinny Lecavalier.

Amidst all that hullaballoo, it’s a good bet that Steve Downie will steal off down the hallway to go chat with Lightning captain Martin St. Louis.

After all, it was St. Louis who Downie credits as the guy who showed him how to mature and play the right way in hockey.

“As you get older and learn the game you mature as a player,” Downie said. “When I came up with Philly, it was a tough lineup to break into but I played the role even though I didn’t get much ice. When I got traded to Tampa I was given more of an opportunity and I got to play with some great players.

“Marty helped me out a lot. When you get the opportunity to be around great players, you can’t help but get better.”

Tampa was where Downie went from being an agitator and a discipline problem to being a more responsible and talented player.

In his first full NHL season, Downie scored 22 goals and added 24 assists for the Lightning and kept up that pace the next two seasons with Tampa and Colorado before blowing out his ACL in the second game of the season with the Avalanche in 2012-13.

Back healthy, he was playing on the Colorado top line where he had seven points in 12 games with the hot starting Avs when he was traded to the Flyers in exchange for Max Talbot.

Since he’s been back, Downie has posted six points in seven games and turned what was essentially a third line with Sean Couturier and Matt Read into a dangerous two-way line.

“I find that he gets the puck a lot and has guys coming toward him,” Read said. “So you have to get to open spots for him and he’ll give you the puck back. He knows how to create that space out there. I can’t say enough about him. It’s been fun playing with him and he’s getting better every game.”

Coming off the concussion and facial injuries suffered in a fight with Aaron Volpatti in his first game back with the Flyers on Nov. 1, Downie has provided consistent production, picking up assists in five of the six games since his return.

“He’s definitely helped [that line],” coach Craig Berube said. “When we put him there I knew he would help create more offensive chances. He’s very good with the puck down low. He makes plays and sees the ice very well.”

It was a trait in Downie that was first noticed by general manager Paul Holmgren when he was the assistant general manager to Bob Clarke and was scouting junior players for the upcoming draft.

At the time the Flyers drafted Downie No. 29 overall in the 2005 NHL entry draft, many pundits considered him a reach.

Holmgren though, at the time, said he had “a little Rick Tocchet in him.”

Through 292 career games Downie is slightly behind Tocchet, but not by much, and considering this is technically his fourth team, and Tocchet played every one of those 292 games with the Flyers – and in an era when there was significantly more scoring than there is today - it’s not a horrible comparison.

Here are those numbers:

Downie: 56 goals, 95 assists, 151 points, 715 penalty minutes.

Tocchet: 90 goals, 109 assists, 199 points, 1,102 penalty minutes.

“The difference is he’s matured and isn’t the loose cannon he once was as a young kid,” Holmgren said about Downie. “There’s a calmness about his game. He doesn’t get enough credit for how good he is as a player as far as talent and skill and how he sees the ice… When you get a competitive tough kid like that it’s huge.”

Which is what made this trade so one-sided in favor of the Flyers.

“When we had him here before we really liked him,” Berube said. “We traded him for a defenseman who was a good defenseman – Matt Carle – that played well for us. There’s reasons you make trades sometimes and we all liked [Downie] and we still did and we’re happy we were able to get him back. It’s not that we didn’t like Max Talbot it’s just that [Downie] adds offense and grit and he’s a Flyers-type player.”

That shouldn’t be interpreted as a guy who plays with his fists first and with his head second. But rather playing smart and with an edge.

Read called him a smart player. Berube called him a smart player. When asked if his on-ice intelligence was underrated, Holmgren said Downie’s reputation clouds the true description of his game.

“Without a doubt it does,” he said. “Everyone just thinks [Downie’s] a knucklehead, but he’s not. He’s a good player.”

To contact Anthony SanFilippo, email asanfilippo@comcast-spectacor.com or follow him on Twitter @InsideTheFlyers

SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 p - BOS 82 54 19 9 261 177 117
2 y - PIT 82 51 24 7 249 207 109
3 x - TBL 82 46 27 9 240 215 101
4 x - MTL 82 46 28 8 215 204 100
5 x - NYR 82 45 31 6 218 193 96
6 x - PHI 82 42 30 10 236 235 94
7 x - CBJ 82 43 32 7 231 216 93
8 x - DET 82 39 28 15 222 230 93
9 WSH 82 38 30 14 235 240 90
10 NJD 82 35 29 18 197 208 88
11 OTT 82 37 31 14 236 265 88
12 TOR 82 38 36 8 231 256 84
13 CAR 82 36 35 11 207 230 83
14 NYI 82 34 37 11 225 267 79
15 FLA 82 29 45 8 196 268 66
16 BUF 82 21 51 10 157 248 52

STATS

2013-2014 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
C. Giroux 82 28 58 7 86
J. Voracek 82 23 39 11 62
W. Simmonds 82 29 31 -4 60
S. Hartnell 78 20 32 11 52
M. Streit 82 10 34 3 44
B. Schenn 82 20 21 0 41
M. Read 75 22 18 -4 40
S. Couturier 82 13 26 1 39
V. Lecavalier 69 20 17 -16 37
K. Timonen 77 6 29 5 35
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
S. Mason 33 18 7 .917 2.50
R. Emery 9 12 2 .903 2.96
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