Matt Carle on last season's Lightning-Flyers stall game: "Hopefully, you'll never see that again"
On Nov. 9, 2011, the Lightning and Flyers engaged at the Tampa Bay Times Forum in a very strange game as the Flyers decided the best way to combat Tampa Bay's 1-3-1 defensive system was to pretty much do nothing -- literally. The Flyers held the puck in their zone waiting for the Lightning to commit a forechecker. Tampa Bay did not, so seven times in the first 20 minutes the team just stared at each other. The longest stretch was for 50 seconds.
Lightning defenseman Matt Carle was with the Flyers back then and said on Sunday, "Hopefully, you'll never see that again."
The subject came up because the Flyers are in town for tonight's game at the Times Forum. It is Carle's first game against his former team since signing with the Lightning over the summer as a free agent.
At the time, the Lightning was using a stagnant 1-3-1 formation that waited for the opposition to skate into it. Media reports made it out to be a protest by Flyers coach Peter Laviolette against the system that for some slowed down the game.
But as Carle remembers it, "We saw the way Tampa Bay was playing at the time and I think it was more or less trying to get them out of their comfort zone and get them to do something they didn't want to do. That's what you do in every game, get somebody off their game and what they're trying to do. Before the game that was the game plan, and I think all of us in the locker room, I don't want to say we were second-guessing it, but almost did a double-take because, 'Are you sure you want us to stand there and wait it out minutes at a time?' "
"I don't think any of us thought it was going to play out like it did," Carle continued. "We thought we would stand there for five, 10 seconds and then somebody would come, but, obviously, that wasn't the case. It was one of the weirdest games I've ever been part of. Hopefully, You'll never see that again."
The Lightning won the game 2-1 in overtime, but Carle said that the Lightning's passive 1-3-1 system was on his mind this summer when he spoke to Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman before signing with Tampa Bay. Carle said he wanted to make sure the team would play a system that better fit his game.
"Yeah, that was some of the conversations," Carle said. "Some of the details were toward that. Steve made some suggestions as to where they were trying to go as a team and they were trying to get away from some of that stuff, so that was comforting to hear."
The 1-3-1 certainly remains in Tampa Bay's arsenal. But with more experience on the blue line with the additions of Carle and Sami Salo, and more speed and a better goaltender, coach Guy Boucher has changed the system into a more aggressive forechecking version.
"His questions were very good," Yzerman said. "We're making a commitment and he's a free agent and has multiple options. They want to know they're going into an environment they can enjoy but also will be able to thrive in. I appreciated the conversation."
Other stuff from the morning skate: As expected Anders Lindback will be in net. ... Defensemen Brendan Mikkelson and Marc-Andre Bergeron and forward Pierre-Cedric Labrie are scratched. ... On the back left side of his goalie mask, Lindback has a drawing of a nose with a large mustache under it. The goalie said it is a tribute to his father, Lars, who wears a big mustache. Lindback said he has used the drawing since he turned pro. "He's always been there for me," Lindback said of Lars. "He was always taking me to hockey practice, so I thought it would be pretty cool. I think he appreciates it." Lindback said Lars, 57, still lives in Sweden, "but he's a big golfer," so he'll be in Tampa a lot. ... Lindback, with an inflated 3.67 goals-against average and so-so .900 save percentage said he is just okay with his game. But coach Guy Boucher said it is important to keep playing Lindback, 24, whom the Lightning wants to develop into a long-term No. 1. "He's a young goaltender who is not going to be perfect," Boucher said. "But he has all the tools to really become a top-notch goaltender. It's just experience and time right now. He has the No. 1 quality a good goaltender has and that's closing the door when it's time, and he's done that. He keeps us in games and makes key saves at the right time. We see he has all the tools. I've never seen a goaltender this big and this fast. Right now, it's just experience and time. We're going to give him time to grow, and that's what my job is, to make him comfortable in his role. It doesn't matter if we have one goal or two goals that he wants back. He's back in because we have confidence in him. It's important he feels that." ... As for Mathieu Garon, who is on a 13-3-2 streak, dating back to last season, he understands the bigger picture and doesn't mind the secondary role. "Lindy is the guy and he gives us a chance to win every night, so it's good that he plays," Garon said. "I'm here to help and play good when I play. With a schedule like we have this year, both goalies are going to play and all teams need good goaltending, so my job is the same." ... Said Boucher of Garon: "You can't get a better athlete or a person. He's the ultimate professional. He's ready when it's time. He understands we have a young guy that's got to see some ice and games so we can build him up. He understands that."