For the Tampa Bay residents who are complaining about the cold snap right now (it's in the 40's as I write this), take a moment and think about where and what the Bolts are going through right now. It's a balmy 16 degrees in Calgary this morning. I do mean balmy. Calgary, this time of year, can get well below zero (and I mean that on both the Celsius and Fahrenheit temperature scales).
But the stories of today are not about the temperature outside. Nope, it's about meeting former friends during the holiday season, or going home for the holidays.
This is also a rarity that the Bolts are not just playing one, but two games in a western conference opponents home venue. Recall the Lightning also played an exhibition game in Calgary during the preseason, losing 5-4 in the shootout. This rarity will be repeated later in the week at Rexall Place in Edmonton when the BOlts take on the Oilers.
Tonight is a homecoming for Lightning forward Dana Tyrell, who grew up in Airdrie, Alberta. Airdrie is approximately 17 miles north of Saddledome. Tyrell has 6 points in 24 games, playing on the lower lines for the Lightning in his first NHL season.
And then there's the fact the Bolts are facing off against former team-mate Alex Tanguay. Tanguay, as everyone knows, struggled in Tampa last season. Why he struggled didn't matter so much, he just struggled and that was good enough for fans to ride him out-of-town.
And where did Alex go, but back to the Canadian Rockies where he had previous success... And what happened after that was... Well, lets let the stats do the talking:
|2010 - Alex Tanguay||8||15||23||3||12|
Not bad for 27 games played.this season. Not bad by a longshot.
Lastly, former GM Jay Feaster gets to say hello to former players and staff tonight. Feaster has been with the Flames for a few months now... And of course the press took tonight's game as an opportunity to ask about star Steven Stamkos (who Feaster drafted before his resignation from the Lightning) and his early struggles:
"I don’t believe there was ever a comprehensive program put in place with him, for him, saying you have to do this as far as your training in the summer to get ready. He’s not ready.
"And then you have (head coach Barry) Melrose saying, ‘I don’t even think this kid should be playing in the league.
"Pretty tough situation to put an 18-year-old kid in."
Pretty tough indeed, and not surprising in the least.
Don't let the fact NHL.com lists Calgary in last place in the West fool you. While the team has fallen on hard times (with injuries and questionable transactions), I don't take them as a group to underestimate in the slightest. The Western Conference in general is dominating the East in inter-conference play...
...Though the Flames are 1-4-1 in inter-conference play. Take that for what you will.
Calgary is 24th in the league on the power play, converting 14.5% of their opportunities. The Lightning continue their high-ranking in the league on the power play. They are 5th in the NHL with a 23.6% conversion rate. On the penalty kill, in spite of poor goaltending, the Lightning rank 6th in the league -- killing off 86.1% of opponents chances. The Flames are ranked 24th in the league, killing off 80% of opponents opportunities.