It could have been predicted that Jarome Iginla would get his 400th goal and pass Theoren Fleury to become the Flames' all-time points leader at 831 points tonight. What could not have been predicted, however, was that Iginla's four point night would not be enough to beat the lowly Lightning; that he would be outscored by Mark Recchi, of all people, that Jim Vandermeer would be the Flames' best defenseman, or that the final score would be 8-6 in favour of the Lightning. Bottom line, it was the Flames' worst defensive effort since the season turnaround a quarter of the way into the season that spoiled Iginla's historic night.
Any time Jim Vandermeer is your most effective defenseman, there are problems (the Flames' highest +/- on the night with +2). Personally, when Robyn Regehr took the four minute high sticking penalty with about 10 minutes left in the third, I thought "this is it, the Flames have to kill off this penalty", and then Vincent Lecavalier slapped home what ended up being the winner. Overall, the Flames gave Lecavalier, as well as Steve Stamkos, Martin St. Louis, and even the aforementioned Mark Recchi a criminal amount of space. This happened because of a generally over-aggressive attack and sloppy puck movement. A key to keeping pace with Calgary is a heavy forecheck against them in their zone and the Lightning successfully did this, though many Calgary turnovers were also unforced. Mike Keenan made the decision after the second period to put Curtis McElhinney in for the third after Kipper allowed 5 goals on 19 shots. Much like the incident last year when he put Curtis Joseph in after a quick 3-0 start by San Jose in Game 3 last year, this decision had less to do with Kiprusoff's play persay than it had to do with Keenan wanting to motivate his defense to play better (though I will admit Kiprusoff did little to keep Calgary in the game tonight). Unfortunately it did not work this time. But that leads to my question: is the jury still out on Curtis Mac after this game? Admittedly, Keenan put him in a near-impossible situation but...
Anyway, I'm tired of talking about this ridiculous game so I'll turn to a positive note: Iginla. Despite the result, I consider myself lucky to have been in attendance for this historic night. I had said before that if Iginla's second point was an assist it would be somewhat anticlimatic, but the atmosphere after point no. 831 on the powerplay was amazing (because everyone knew Iginla was the second assist immediately due to the quickness of the goal). Regardless of what happens the rest of the season, this night will be one of my favorite moments as a fan. Peter Maher's call on Iginla's 400th goal was great as well.
Overall, while this game featured disgusting defense on Calgary's part, and left me with a bad taste in my mouth due to certain feelings I still keep from five years ago, it does not worry me too much. Any team is due for a few of these type of games a season. (See: Nashville 8, Detroit 0 from last night; more relevant to the Flames is their bizarre 7-6 win over the Preds in November.) The Flames' 7-game Eastern road trip remains just as pivotal in terms of the division race. A loss like this to one of the worst teams in the league is not a big deal as long as they don't do it against teams such as Ottawa, Atlanta, Carolina and Toronto.
Basically, what I'd like to do right now is just remember the moments when Iggy scored point number 831 and goal number 400, and forget everything else about tonight.