The one bright spot in the Flames 5-2 loss to the Atlanta Thrashers was the performances of their recent call-ups.
Jamie Lundmark, David Van Der Gulik, Warren Peters and Brett Sutter all played very well for the Flames and have definitely stepped up to the plate for Flames in light of the recent rash of injuries.
"It was a tough one for us," Lundmark lamented to the FAN 960 after the game.
Lundmark thought the call-ups performed well under the pressure and they couldn't be used as excuse for the last two losses.
"I don't think it's an excuse. The guys who have come up have done good jobs. It's not an excuse, we just have to come out and play hard."
Eric Nystrom echoed Lundmark's thoughts on excusing losses due to the new players.
"Every guy on that team is a National Hockey League player. It doesn't matter whose in or whose out. We gotta play together as team if we want to be successful. We can't point fingers or look at whose in or whose not. It's about whose in that dressing room and we need to be better prepared."
Van Der Gulik had one of his best games since being recalled from the Quad City Flames. He was one of the very few Flames with a +1 rating on the matinee game. He mustered three shots on net - all three decent scoring opportunities - and had 11:14 total ice time.
Van Der Gulik picked up his second NHL point with an assist on Craig Conroy's first period goal. He picked up his first career point in Ottawa with an assist on Peters first NHL goal.
The helper on Conroy's goal showed Van Der Gulik's hockey sense. He read the Thrashers play perfectly and intercepted an errant pass right in the middle of the offensive zone.
While the Flames were held off the board in the second frame, the youngsters saw themselves with a decent amount of ice time. By the time 40 minutes had passed, Van Der Gulik had 7:54 ice time, Peters had 5:35 and Sutter had 9:02.Van Der Gulik and Peters also saw time on the penalty kill.
Lundmark was an effective player for the Flames during the disappointing second period. He played on the power play and looked very steady in his five-on-five time. His forecheck most likely drew praise from his teammates and coaches.
Sutter had a great scoring opportunity in the third period when he quickly backhanded a shot on net, surprising Kari Lehtonen. The energy play came right after Ilya Kovalchuk's goal, showing the young forward's jump didn't drop due to the Thrashers goal.
Lundmark got more time on the power play with Jarome Iginla and Olli Jokinen late in the third. He said his game plan for the time with the man advantage was very basic.
"You try and keep things simple and move the puck around. It's too bad it was late in the game and we were down by a few," he told Peter Maher. "It's a good feeling to be out there but obviously not getting the two points is disappointing."
Peters had the least ice time of the four call-ups, getting 8:36 of playing time. He didn't get a shot on net in the contest but did play 3:24 on the penalty kill.
Lundmark, while not happy with the game against the Thrashers, was still positive about the road trip.
"We know we're a good team. When everyone plays together, we're a great team. We could be the best team in the NHL if we put everything together."
David Moss missed the game due to a death in the family. Adam Pardy was the odd man out on the defense corps as Jim Vandermeer was moved back to the blueline.
For Calgary fans used to a jam-packed Pengrowth Saddledome, seeing the multitude of vacant seats was probably a shock. On every level of the arena there seemed to be more empty seats than filled ones.
The Flames record after losing a game by six or more goals is now 4-1-1 this season. This marked the only time this year that the Flames didn't have decent jump in the game after a major loss.