Post-Game: Lightning Crashes



The Flames have been absolutely snake-bit since the holiday break ended and that didn’t change tonight after a 2-0 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning. It’s sadly ironic that the club’s offense has gone south just as the goaltending has started to look NHL-caliber, but such is the life of Flames fans these days.

What Happened

The first period was mostly dominated by Tampa Bay, who were foiled by several posts and some superb play by Karri Ramo. The Lightning fired 13 shots on net, with five of those coming off an early powerplay thanks to newest Flame Kevin Westgarth pushing over Ben Bishop in the Tampa crease for some reason.

The Flames had a late period pushback when Mikael Backlund generated a partial breakaway and then a Lightning penalty off of a blocked shot. Michael Cammalleri actually managed to bat in a rebound after Backlund’s initlal shot on the play, but the referee had already blown the play dead. Calgary has had a lot of problems scoring recently, but it doesn’t help that they keep getting legitimate goals disallowed as well.

Despite the Backlund powerplay, Calgary only ended up with 5 shots on net and probably only two or three real scoring chances in the entire period. They were lucky to escape the first frame with the score 0-0.

Ramo couldn’t hold the fort in the second period, however. The Lightning continued to control play and they opened the scoring about 5 minutes in thanks to a top corner wrist shot by Ondrej Palat. They extended their lead to two five minutes later when a Nikita Kucherov finished off a two-on-one passing play with a tip into the empty net. Both goals came a few seconds after Mike Cammalleri stepped out of the penalty box, who had himself a bit of a rough period.

The Flames only had 13 shots on net through two periods, with just a handful of chances and periods of sustained pressure. In addition, the zebras continued their run of bad work in Calgary when a Flames attack was cut short by a whistle for a Lightning player who lost his skate blade on the ice (usually, this doesn’t warrant a stoppage in play). With their continued offensive struggles, Calgary sure could use a few calls to go their way for a change.

The third didn’t bring any relief to the Flames frustrations. The club began to press frantically to break Ben Bishop’s shut-out and managed to get a few more quality looks at the net, but continued to shoot pucks wide, into blocks, or at the goaltender’s chest. In their quest for a goal, Calgary also gave up a number of chances against, including four (!!) different break-aways, all of which were turned away by Ramo, who was excellent despite the loss.

The bid to avoid yet another shut-out was snuffed out when Mark Giordano took a penalty in the last few minutes with the goalie pulled.

Red Warrior

Not a lot to choose from on a night like this. Mikael Backlund had a few good shifts and Paul Byron was probably the only Flame who seemed consistently dangerous. That said, this has to go to Karri Ramo who stopped 27 of the 29 shots he faced, many of the high quality variety. It could have been a much uglier evening had he not been on his game.

Sum it Up

We all knew there was going to be periods like this when the org pressed the "rebuild" button. The Flames weren’t as good as they seemed when everything was going in for them to start the season and they probably aren’t as bad as they seem now, but it’s been a tough stretch to sit through for everyone in Flamesland.

With 1 goal in the last 4 games and pretty much everyone in the league aside from the Sabres and Oilers pulling away, the lone good news is a top-5 pick in the 2014 draft is becoming more and more likely.

  • McRib

    We have pressed the rebuild button and yet Tampa according to the pregame show on TV had 8 rookies in there lineup, we had 1. Good choice of Ramo as the red warrior, the other names mentioned were reasonable candidates. I’m not sure what direction we are headed but the hole seems to be getting bigger.

    • supra steve

      I’m not sure of the “official” definition of a rookie, but I consider all of the following to be pretty close:

      Monahan, Byron, Bouma, Colborne, Ramo, and Berra. All on the roster last night. And while I’m sure they are not all eligible for the Calder this season, they are all pretty green.

      And then there is Sven, who has been sent down because he has proven to be not yet ready for The Show. That being the case (with Sven and others), the best place for him is with the Heat.

      • supra steve

        Did you not read post 20? Also Bouma did not play last night and we only played one goalie. My point is that we play to many vets because we are still stuck in the must win column and yet Tampa is in the win column playing more young players. I don’t think we have explored the development stage nearly enough, almost every time we have had an injury we have plugged the spot with a veteran AHL or replacement level NHLer rather than look at the kids.

        • supra steve

          So, there is one group complaining that there are not enough kids with the big club (I’m gonna put you in that group), even though there are actually quite a few first or second year NHLers on the roster on a regular basis this season.

          Then there is another group complaining that the kids are not spending enough time in the AHL developing in the “Detroit” way (AKA what the Leafs tried with Kadri or the Sens did with Spezza way back in the day).

          I say there has to be responsibility placed on the players to earn their spot. Sven is earning his spot with the Heat, but he needs to show a willingness to alter his game in some ways before he earns that Flames spot. He is no longer playing against a bunch of kids, he is at the big table now with the adults.

          This is not about the 2013-14 season. This is about 3-5 years down the road. Thinking only about the here and now is what got us to the point where the team had to trade away it’s top NHL assets for picks/prospects.

          I, personally, like the path that I think the franchise is on now. If we lose to Tampa or Vancouver or Edmonton…I’m more than OK with that this year (and next).

          • supra steve

            You are right it is not about this season. However I do think that looking at the other kids for a period of time when we have vets will be more valuable long term than waiting until the UFA’s are moved and playing the prospects without the support of vets. I’m also in favor of playing skilled guys ahead of Westgarth or McGrattan. I’m not saying we should have any of the young guys up indefinatly but that does not preclude seeing them play at this level to assess them versus men and also to show them where they need to improve. An example would be with both BJones and GlenX injured why not see Hankowski for a few games rather than McG and West.When either of the two more skilled guys get back he takes his experience with him, if he does not play well then he goes back. I would really prefer to wait on some guys like Detroit but until or talent level with the Flames improves that type of patience may not be the best answer. By the way I do recognize the development of Bouma, Colborne and now Byron as being good for the club (guys who are 23/24 and are AHL vets).

            The one that I really don’t understand is the Billins one; he and Russell are both about the same size, both are puck moving defencemen and good on the pp. Instead we see O’B who has not played all that well.

  • McRib

    Open letter to Brian Burke.

    I was going to give you a list of forwards that you need to trade, then I decided that a list of forwards who played tonight that you should NOT trade would be shorter:

    Monahan, Hudler, Colborne, Byron…….that is all.

    Thank you.


  • McRib

    Alright, so that didn’t go according to plan, but look at it this way:

    the goaltending is nearing “NHL-calibre” and if it continues to progress maybe we have a tradeable asset for when our franchisee guy is ready for NHL prime time when he finishes at Providence.

    Defence has looked better and when Russell is back it might be positively middle of the pack.

    All we need now is for the offence to create a few more chances and to capitalize on what chances they do have, and we’ll have a real team.

    “It’s a great day for hockey.”

    • cunning_linguist

      I’m not sure how WW was being a dick, I watched the game last night and his criticism of the forwards is relatively accurate and I suspect that Hartley would have been critical of most of his forwards after the game. Indeed they do pay the other guys and they played way better than most of our forwards. WW wants our acting GM to acquire more forwards like Tampa has and what is wrong with that. Opps time to go back to watching WJ’s.

  • RexLibris

    26. Florida – 41gp 36 pts

    27. Islanders – 42gp 35 pts

    28. Calgary – 41gp 34 pts

    29. Edmonton – 43gp 31 pts

    30. Buffalo – 41gp 26 pts

    I think Buffalo has 30th wrapped up early if only because they don’t have any impact players on the sidelines and potential improvement is likely to be very limited.

    Edmonton…if I knew anything to suggest or predict about this team I’d sell it to Katz for a bottle of Amnesia-inducing medication.

    The Islanders still have Tavares and if they could add some goaltending might actually climb a spot or two in the standings.

    Florida is contractually obligated to draft in the top five nine out of every ten years.

    I’m not convinced the Flames are going to go into free fall when the trade deadline comes and a body or two is subtracted from the roster. They surprised late last season after the departure of Bouwmeester and Iginla and I suspect Burke is less likely to simply subtract NHL bodies from this roster than make long term additions by trade. Roster sales for draft picks aren’t really his style.

    My bet is the Flames draft somewhere between 3rd and 6th overall, lottery notwithstanding.

    • Parallex

      Not sure I would put any money on your theory Rex. Look at our roster, if that doesn’t scream rebuild, then I don’t know what does. Whatever Burkes style is, he has to rebuild & this year has selling of UFA vets written all over it.

  • McRib

    Burke is going to prove that truculence without skill makes a very poor hockey team. A good pillaging and rampaging group but a poor hockey team. Whether he means to or not.

  • Parallex

    Things started to look very positive after game 1 of the homestand with the comeback win against the Blues. Then the back to back shutout losses to the coilers (Gio’s goal disallowed), the caschmucks (8 total shots through 2 periods), 4-1 loss to the flyers, and tonight, Cammy’s(legal) goal disallowed ,and Colborne’s breakaway nulified because of a whistle that should not have been blown. After the 2 shutout losses,the trade for Westgarth, happens and Markus Granlund gets sent down??? 1-4 on the 5 game homestand, 3 shutout losses, 1 goal scored over the last 4 losses, What Now?

  • Derzie

    A team that screams rebuild has some rookies on it. Not sludge headed goons who take their spots in the lineup. Look at the standings. Really look. Truculence does not win today. Skill and hard work do.

    • Parallex

      3 goons in the system (Big Ern’, McDermid and Westgarth)with 2 of them in the lineup tonight and McDermid in Abby taking up space. Truculence at its finest, skill and hard work nowhere to be found. With Ramo not standing on his head tonight,the score could have been a lot worse, yeah, I know, a loss is a loss.

  • Parallex

    Another loss, nothing being done about the scoring drought, Burke coming out and saying that the team is too soft and Hartley, well, doing whatever Burke and Co. says. Lather, rinse, repeat.

  • MonsterPod

    Suck bad for Eckblad! I’m lovin’ this. Yes, it’s hard to watch, but it’s for the best. Get your chit together Coilers and pass us in the second half.

    Re: Burke. The guy is just getting started. Chill boyos; give him a chance to pull off some thievery like JVR for Schenn and Phaneuf for Stajan.

  • cunning_linguist

    Sven scored last night but the Heat lost 2-1.

    We like to say that we are in a rebuild but are we? Inexperienced NHL goalies; both struggled at the start but seem to be getting better. 1 young defender TJB, 2-3 vets that are just not good enough (O’B,Smid and Butler)would we be better off seeing if the 23/24 year olds in Abby can play?
    Up front we played how many young forwards last night? Monahan, Byron, Colborne and Backlund(?). Tampa that is in a playoff position played 8 rookies according to pregame show; if that is true what could we learn from them? Could we see more of our skilled players from the AHL or will we see more of our grit NHler’s? I know what I would prefer to see.

  • cunning_linguist

    Got up early this morning walked the dog, shoveled the snow and am now watching the Swedes/Russians and totally enjoying the game. Big hits, speed, skills and yes a goal. This is way more enjoyable than last nights Flames game. As I watch this game
    I’m left wondering how a guy with Poiriers speed and skill would have looked wearing the red and white.

  • cunning_linguist

    Burkey ripped Bobby Ryan in the press as having nothing to offer the US Olympic team. More ore less called him a floater. Well, Bobby Ryan is exactly what the Flames need. The 4 top scores on the Flames, Hudler, Cammy, Giordano and Monahan have a total of 83 hits, less than 21 hits each in 40 games. That’s pathetic. Bobby Ryan has 80 hits himself – ya, that’s a floater. Burke’s still showing that he’s a moron and a bully

    • Craig

      First anyone who has read anything I have to say knows I am not a Burke fan so what I am going to say is not easy. Burke did not rip Ryan in the press but in a closed environment that was between the Staff of USA hockey GM’s and coaches that USA Hockey had allowed the media to attend. It seems that the Staff thought they had the right to edit while the journalists did not. Burke as an experienced GM should have known better and should have read the fine print. As a member of the staff selecting the USA team they needed to be able to be blunt and intentional but this needed to be done in private.

      However if your stats are correct and I will assume they are then his criticism of Ryan seems unfounded. Also is you implied criticism of Gio who has missed a good number of games. Gio’s value is measured in many ways, hits yes, blocked shots and this year some offensive production. Hudler and Cammi are not the same type of physical players as Ryan so again not a great comparison and Monahan is a rookie. If you want to compare Ryan to anyone compare him to the guys team USA kept; ie Kessler and the other skilled guys.

      You want to rip Burke go ahead but try to put the whole story in context.

    • cunning_linguist

      That’s not entirely accurate. Burke has Ryan on his team in a top six role. Talked about his ability to finish. Said that if he was playing in an energy/checking role he wasn’t a good fit because he doesn’t bring intensity.

      In terms of moron bully, that’s for you to decide. I have a hard time calling a guy with a Harvard degree who is at the pinnacle of his profession making more money than I can imagine a moron. Now if you had said loudmouth….

  • cunning_linguist

    Two nights in a row we have dressed two face punchers. This makes no sense to me. Why not give some young guys a chance to inject some effort into the lineup and see what you have?

      • cunning_linguist

        Point in fact. The same day that Westgarth was traded for and inserted into the lineup, Granlund was sent down. McGrattan on the 3rd line, Westgarth on the 4th, smaaart!

        • Craig

          You are correct and I was critical of it then. I would prefer to see Granlund, Knight or even Hankowski up with big club and see what they can do rather than watch Westgarth or McGrattan, I would also prefer to see Billins or Cundari over O’B, Butler or Smid. Cundari seems to have recovered from his injuries and slow start. Last night according to reports he had an assist, some big hits and a fight. He might not be tall but he can be physical and can move the puck. It would be great if Ferland was healthy as I would love to see him as well but as we have had no official update on his status it should be assumed he is out for the foreseeable future. Outside of these prospects we will probably not see any of our other prospects until next season. Abbotsford will likely see them first based upon NCAA and CHL schedules.

  • Craig

    I have never sent as many angry tweets towards Burke and the flames as I did last night. Yeah we have some guys injured and sick but the roster construction of the bottom six is abysmal. Greg niemisz was never gonna be a player but having Westgarth and Mcgratton playing at the same time is a major liability. We’ve got so many guys in Abbotsford that could be playing their heart out in the bottom six and actually making a difference. Colborne looks like he’s getting worse, Stempniak is stuck in the mud, and it look like cammaleri just doesn’t care anymore.

    Our best player last night was the exact opposite of what Burke wants. Our best prospect is the exact opposite of what Burke wants. I don’t know why management thought it was a good fit to have him run this thing.

    It really isn’t a surprise to me that this streak of poor play has coincided with the firing of Feaster and Weisbrod. They weren’t the best by any means bit Brian Burke has yet to show me one thing that I can get behind, he’s going to ruin this rebuild.

    Rant over.

    On a positive note I really like Sam Reinhardt and hope we draft him.

  • ChinookArchYYC

    There are different ways to build a winner in the NHL today, but there are at least 2 common denominators, teams must have a skill and must be very good at puck possession. The Bolts are a good case study this season. With their star player out with a broken leg, they have maintained 3rd place in the east and 8th overall. While Ben Bishop has been ‘lights out’ good in net (94.4% save rate) the Bolts PDO is about 101, meaning they are likely not merely a lucky team. They are not consider truculent (God I can’t stand the term), and are one of the smallest team (height and weight) in the league. The Bolts are very good at a posession game, have a nice mix of skill, and are very fast.

    Whether you believe in advanced stats, or believe that posession is simply an outcome of a highly skilled team, and a style of play does not change the paradigm today. Teams must be fast and skilled, size is nice but not necessary. (See the 2013 Blackhawks).

    Burkie says he wants skill and size, but it appears that he puts those assets into different silos. Sure he’ll take size and skill, who wouldn’t, but the trouble with Burke is that he’s perfectly happy to take size and the absence of skill. His actions speak louder than words, employing 2 one dimensional pungilists in both Toronto and Calgary. Brian Burke is yesterday’s man, nothing that has done so far (in fact over the last 7 years has changed my view of this).

  • Craig

    I attended last night’s game and that was both brutal and pathetic. Rebuilding or not, one goal in four games is unacceptable. They looked like a different team when I attend the St. Louis game before Christmas. They need to stopped the perimeter play and go more north-south and drive to the net. Way too many turnovers last night as well. I hope the losing isn’t wearing on them, still have a few months to go. Hope guys like Cammy and Stemp haven’t checked out because they are waiting for a trade.

    • Craig

      The 1st intermission interview with Cammy and the post game interview with Stemp, they both sounded defeated and may have already checked out. Stemp used the word frustrated 3 times on one question, to go along with the 1000 yard stare while he was answering. It was the same kind of look that Iggy had a few weeks before he got traded, because after a while, after repeating the same crap, with that same look on your face, you yourself don’t even believe it.