For two periods in Tampa, the Flames were the better hockey team. They won the possession battle and were up by one on the score clock. However, they gave it all back in the third period when they succumbed to fatigue and the dreaded defensive shell (ie; playing "not to lose"). Who knows how different things would have been had Kotalik (ejection) and Bourque (injured by cheap shot) still been around. We'll never know, unfortunately.
As mentioned, Calgary was solid for most of the evening, but some old habits seemed to creep back into their game on Saturday. They ended up with just 16 ES shots on goal which was just 40% of their total attempts. The final period of extremely tentative, no forecheck hockey reminded me of many of their pre-trade outings. Generating all of two scoring chances during the 23+ minutes the game was locked at one all isn't going to get it done. And keep in mind the Flames weren't exactly playing the Blackhawks.
What wasn't normal was Brent Sutter's treatment of Jarome Iginla versus the Lightning. Through most of the season, Iginla's been given the tough assignments - own zone draws, match-ups versus the other teams stars etc. Not this time. His corsi number is good, but check out his zone start (face-offs) and head-to-head ice - he took just a single defensive zone draw all night and he mostly faced guys like Lundin, Thompson and Malone. Langkow et al were fed to the wolves to give Iginla a chance to beat up the lesser lights (hell, Mikael Backlund saw more of Lecavalier than Iginla did). And he didn't do it. He finished the night just +2 in terms of scoring chances. That is a depressingly mediocre performance by Jarome considering the circumstances.
During this most recent stretch of important games against lackluster opponents, the captain has just a single assist. He was held scoreless against a middling club, despite soft as butter match-ups, easy as pie zone starts and 21+ minutes of ice time. That's not even close to good enough. The Flames are battling for their play-off lives here. At some point, Jarome has to snap out of his reverie and return to at least a semblance of the player he once was. He's the lone superstar amongst the forwards and he's the highest paid by a full $2.5 million. Teams without legit difference makers up front don't win anything in this league and as it stands right now the Flames are one of those teams.
Also - just so I don't forget to mention it...the officiating in this contest was absolutely atrocious.