Just some quick thoughts on the Flames and some of the players.
As for the team itself I think they have to be happy with the result overall yesterday. Tampa Bay dressed a roster that will be close to what they open the regular season with, yet they were clearly outplayed by the Flames and their rookie-laden roster for most of the night. The power-play, although successful, still needs a lot of work and the penalty kill started great and went into a shell in the third, allowing the Lightning to get back in the game.
Having said that, here are my thoughts on the individual Flames players:
Marc Giordano: Was the best player on the ice for either team all night long. He's probably the Flames best defenseman and this is a great sign heading into the season.
Cory Sarich: Sarich is one tough SOB. He laid out several Lightning players and played a physical game. However, he was a detriment to the team whenever the puck was on his stick, made several BAD turnovers and is probably the slowest player in the NHL.
Adam Pardy: Got burned early for the opening goal but settled down. Showed some bursts at times but wasn't all that noticeable most the game; don't know whether that's a good or bad thing.
Staffan Kronwall: Had the misfortune of being paired with big Gord Baldwin. But, he showed that he's exactly as advertised, a solid call up D-man who's capable of moving the puck and playing a shut down role. Great play to set up the Conroy goal off the faceoff.
Rene Bourque: He's starting to look more and more like Jarome Iginla as he gains experience. He's very strong on the puck and was the clear leader on the night. He looks like he's primed to score 30. Best two-way forward on the team.
Curtis Glencross: Flashes here and there. He's a good and important player to the team and when he's going and checking, the team follows. Last night he was solid but didn't stand out much.
Craig Conroy: Started VERY slow. In the 1st period I thought I may be watching Conroy live for the last time. But he recovered and played very well in the offensive zone with some dangles to set up scoring chances and a nice goal. He's slow and lags behind in the defensive zone.
David Moss: I think he looked comfortable at centre and won some draws. Didn't stand out at all other than in the faceoff circle.
Ales Kotalik: Showed some major jump at times. He's fast with a great shot. At other times he floated around and watched the play. He should be a useful 3rd line player but it's unfortunate he comes with the bad price tag.
Raitis Ivanans: Took stupid penalties. Plays a very tough game. At this point, I'm not a huge fan and would prefer Tim Jackman, but we'll see. Came to the aid of Gio after he was challenged by several Lightning players... no one would go with him.
Brett Sutter: As advertised. Rock solid hard worker. Bad passer and stone hands. Played the wing... prefer him at centre. Good penalty killing.
Stefan Meyer: Solid game. Looks like he's getting used to playing a checking role but he had 3 very big hits and had to defend himself following one by fighting the much bigger Ryan Malone... he got worked. Skated hard all night. Doesn't look out of place.
Jon Rheault: Was looking forward to watching him play but found him to be invisible.
Greg Nemisz: He has some skill and he has some grit. Didn't look comfortable on the PP and I'd like to see him skate harder.
Cam Cunning: Held his own, but was part of that 3rd line that was mostly invisible.
Mikael Backlund: Extremely dangerous on the penalty kill. Picked several pockets in the offensive zone to create turnovers. Looks to be a VERY solid two-way centre. Would love to see him make the team if they can give him 12 min/night.
TJ Brodie: Another that I was very excited to watch and he didn't disappoint early. Banging in a rebound (off the post) for a PP goal and then firing home another on the PP. He can skate, he can move the puck, he can play the 2nd unit PP. However, in the 3rd when TBay was clawing back he made several turnovers and struggled to keep up with the pace.
Gord Baldwin: Clearly in over his head. He's not a very good skater, he can't pass and he panicked a lot. Was the worst player on either team. He made it very difficult on Kronwall all night long,.
Miikka Kiprusoff: He played a solid game, but he looked like he always does early in the year; often over-committing when he goes moves outside his crease or goes post to post. Wasn't ready for the early goal by TB and probably should have stopped the puck.
Matt Keetley: Looked shaky early but settled down. Had no chance on either goal. Stopped the first 2 shootout attempts easily and then Vinny had him beat convincingly on the 3rd attempt but the puck jumped over his stick. Made a brilliant save on a two-on-one to ensure the game even made it to a shootout. Good effort for Keetley.
As for the Lightning; this was my first time watching them play live and I have some thoughts on them. They had to be disappointed with their game. Other than the big line they had trouble generating scoring chances.
- Both Lecavalier and Stamkos' PP goals were wide open one-timers on the PP. By the time the sound of the puck hitting the stick echoed into the the crowd the net was already wrinkled at the water bottle sent flying. They were ROCKETS and Keetley had no chance on either.
- Simon Gagne is dangerous when open. He one-timed a Stamkos pass into the only place Kipper couldn't reach. Beautiful goal.
- Hedman is a beast and although he's got a ways to go, he's gonna be damn good once he gets there.
- St. Louis was dangerous all night long. He was their best overall player.