In their second game in the sunshine state, the Calgary Flames were hoping for a better result against Tampa Bay than they had against Florida. They did not get get it. Here are my thoughts.
In the second of three ‘measuring stick’ games against top Eastern Conference teams, the Calgary Flames came up short 4-1 against the Tampa Bay Lightning. It may be time to put the measuring stick away for now.
It was a different loss when compared to their previous match-up against the Florida Panthers. In the Florida game, the Flames generated all sorts of offence, outshooting and logging more high danger chances than their opponents. Versus the Tampa Bay Lightning, they were held to 13 shots in the first two periods combined, then 14 in the third.
Tampa’s Nikita Kucherov made his season debut after missing 32 games with a lower body injury. I kinda wish he would have sat out one more. He was all over the ice on Thursday, posting 2 assists and earning the game’s first star.
Here’s what else I noticed.
Vladar deserved better than he got on Thursday. Through the first two periods, he was positively hammered by Tampa Bay’s shooters. Facing 28 shots, 11 high danger chances, and allowing only one goal in the first two periods, he was the only player keeping the Calgary Flames in the game. For the most part, he contained the puck and either limited or flat out stopped rebound opportunities.
He fell off a bit in the third, allowing 2 goals in 14 seconds about midway through. One, a wrist shot from Alex Killorn, was pretty saveable. Irrespective, at that point in the game, Vladar had still not received any support on offense from the rest of his team.
This was a good news/bad news situation for the Calgary Flames.
One on hand, the team had the man advantage 3 times on Thursday and didn’t produce once. In his post-game media availability, Head Coach Darryl Sutter pointed specifically to a power play in the first period as an opportunity to get on the board that the team squandered.
Conversely, the team was perfect when they were a man down. They were particularly good killing off the final 3 minutes of Brad Richardson’s 5-minute major late in the second.
Too Little Too Late
The Flames were offensively better in the third, finally getting more shots on the goalie than their opponents. Dillon Dube finally potted on late in the game. But, as good as it was to see him contributing, the score was out of reach by then.
Dube’s goal was perhaps a byproduct of energy generated by Erik Gudbranson’s fight with Tampa’s Patrick Maroon. The two had been chirping for most of third until Gudbranson objectively wiped the floor with Maroon (who now looks like he goes to the same barber as Chris Tanev).
Sutter downplayed the suggestion that Gudbranson was sending a message to Flames. Whether that’s the case or not, a message should have been sent long before that point in the game.
With two of these ‘measuring stick’ games down, I hope the Calgary Flames can take the lessons learned and put on a show in the third game against Carolina.