I mean, time passes, and things change, especially in pro sports. The Lightning are on their fourth head coach since June 7th, 2004 (John Tortorella was replaced by Barry Melrose (1) who was replaced by Rick Tocchet (2) who was succeeded by Guy Boucher (3) who was replaced by Jon Cooper (4) ]. Calgary is on their fourth as well (Darryl Sutter was replaced by Jim Playfair (1) who was replaced by Mike Keenan (2) who was replaced with Brent Sutter (3) who was replaced by Bob Hartley (4)]. But maybe it's the on-ice changes that are more numerous. Players come and go, that's how it is in pro-sports... And tenure is rare as well on teams, especially during years of also-ran results. 10 years after the 2004 Stanley Cup Final, only one player who played in the series will be on ice for tonight's game at Saddledome: Martin St. Louis.
Oh, guys who participated in the series are still active in this league and elsewhere. It's just the fact things have changed.
The Flames are in rebuild mode at this juncture. They have some assets, they have more liabilities, as well as a murky immediate-future now that Brian Burke ousted Jay Feaster as general manager of the franchise. Burke himself has had successes and failures in his time as GM elsewhere in the league, so it's tough to say what's in store for the C of Red. Likely more changes, with fewer high end assets to move around while trying to retool and rebuild the Flames, are in store for Calgary during the offseason. Yet right now, whatever those changes will be is a necessity. The Flames are 28th in the NHL (14-20-6, 34 points), better than only the Edmonton Oilers and Buffalo Sabres.
In ways, Calgary is a much better team than its record indicates. The problem being the roster has not been able to stay healthy (on top of being in a rebuilding mode). Jiri Hudler leads the team with 33 points (11 goals and 22 assists) and is one of only three players on the Flames roster to play in all 40 games this season.
Not that Tampa Bay is much better off in that department; the Bolts have had seven players play all 40 games this season, but getting production out of everyone has helped move things along.
After Hudler's 33 points, Calgary has a big drop off - the next three leading scorers on the roster have 20, 17 and 17 points respectively. One of those three is rookie Sean Monahan, drafted by the Flames at the 2013 NHL Draft in the first round.
A lack of production, a lack secondary scoring, and ultimately a lack of success.
Former Lightning goaltender Karri Ramo is slated to go between the pipes tonight for the Flames. Ramo, who returned to North America after playing the past four seasons in the KHL, has a 2.79 GAA and .904 save percentage in 17 appearances for the Flames (he's 6-6-3). Ramo's opposing netminder, the starter for the Lightning, will be Ben Bishop. Bish continues to be the backstop in Tampa; in 30 appearances this season he's posted a 21-5-2 record, .935 save percentage and a mind-boggling 1.89 GAA. The GAA is a joint statement of the play that is taking place in net and by the guys in front of Ben... And it's inspiring.
Calgary's Dennis Wideman, a standard on the blueline up until injury sidelined him, will make his return to the lineup for the Flames tonight. Wideman's been out with a broken hand, but was logging more than 25 minutes of ice-time a game for the Flames before going down.
Sami Salo will miss tonight's game of the Bolts, while Tom Pyatt and B.J. Crombeen are also watching this one from the press box.
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