A month ago when the Calgary Flames were sporting a 2-5-2 record at Home, coach Bob Hartley was asked what the team needed to do improve in their own building.
“Maybe we should take a bus to the Saddledome,” he replied jokingly.
The team didn’t commission a bus to bring players to the ‘Dome but since that comment, the Flames have won six straight at home.
The down side is that they’ve lost six straight on the road entering Monday’s match in Dallas starting a six-game trip.
Perhaps the coach should call off the buses Travel Ace Sean O’Brien has arranged for on game days this week and have his players all walk to the arenas in Dallas, Nashville and Columbus.
The hotels the team is staying at in all three cities are within easy walking distance to the rinks and the weather forecasts all indicate much warmer weather than in Calgary.
Calgary is where No. 1 goalie Miikka Kiprusoff is to start the trip. He’s with his wife,who is giving berth. That means Joey MacDonald starts against the Stars. He has 2-0 lifetime record vs. the Stars including a 30-save win this season in Dallas.
Regardless of goalie or mode of getting to arenas, Hartley knows his Flames need to continue the “pressure hockey” they’ve employed at home lately and revert to what they did at the start of the season when they compiled a 3-1-1 record in their first five assignments in enemy buildings.
Or maybe, it has more to do with where the Flames play their road games.
That being the case, they enter a couple of friendly buildings on this trip. At least ones where they’ve had recent success.
The last time the Flames won a road match it was in Dallas where they start this journey. It was a 4-3 triumph on Feb.17. They also have a 4-3 win in Columbus this season. That was Feb. 7. It’s a return visit to end this trip on Friday.
The middle game on Thursday, is the Flames first visit to Nashville this season. They lost twice in Music City last year. However, this may feel like a home game since the Flames will spend two full days in Nashville before hitting the ice.
Greatly improved road play is imperative if Hartley’s Flames are to be a playoff team.