CALGARY — It was widely accepted last spring the Calgary Flames missed the playoffs due to their home record.
A 17-20-4 mark in front of your fans generally doesn’t cut it.
With almost three months remaining in the regular season the Flames are already just two wins away from tying last season’s home victory total, which says plenty about how they’ve come to land second in the NHL standings.
Sunday’s 7-1 spanking of Arizona at the Dome gives the Flames a 15-4-4 home record that is considered relatively standard for a team challenging for the division.
For further proof of that, consider the two teams nipping at the Flames’ heels in the Pacific also have just four regulation losses at home.
“The Pacific gets beat up a little bit sometimes,” said coach Bill Peters. “I think the Pacific is a real good division and it’s reflected in those home records.”
Taking advantage of the optional portion of an optional skate on Sunday, Peters dug into the stats that have people around the league talking about the Pacific.
The three-headed monster battling for the top of the division has San Jose, Vegas and his Flames in an intense dog-fight. Widely considered the weakest division heading into the season, the Pacific now sports three of the hottest, most potent clubs in the loop.
Occupying three of the top five spots in the league standings, every member in the trio has gone 8-1-1 of late.
"When you look at home records there are five or six teams that are elite home records and three are in the Pacific," said Peters.”Combined I think we’ve lost 12 games — four each. So, all you’re doing there is keeping up — we’re not creating separation there.”
A five-game winning streak has the Flames three points up on the Sharks and four on the Golden Knights.
Their respective home records are 15-4-4, 16-4-4 and 15-4-3.
"In previous years you’re in spots where you’re not in a comfortable spot and you’re trying to play catch-up and that’s not the case this year," said Sean Monahan, whose club has won five in a row, including three straight at the Dome.
"This year is different — we’re focused on our group and in the guys in this room and we’re playing for each other and you can see that. And that’s why we’re in the position we are."
Despite a solid start last year, the Flames were only 12-11 at home this time a year ago.
"There’s a lot of things that go into it — our power play wasn’t good last year and if you don’t win special teams, you’re not likely to win games," added Monahan, whose squad was the quickest Flames bunch to win 30 games since the Stanley Cup-winning club of 1988-89. “I think this year it’s just a whole different group and a different mindset.
"You’ve got to expect to win games. That’s been our mindset here.
"We’re relentless. The last couple games haven’t been our greatest and those are the turning points of the year where you learn stuff. It’s been a good year in that sense for us and a lot of guys have stepped up for us."
That explains the league-best seven third-period comeback wins.
When Peters arrived in Calgary this summer he was well aware the Flames hadn’t taken advantage of home ice, but he insists he hasn’t seen a noticeable difference in the team’s approach based on locale.
"I think we’re good everywhere to be honest with you," said Peters, whose club has the NHL’s third-best road record at 15-9-0. “I think our game is very consistent — I think we have a game that can travel.
"I don’t know what it was (last year at home), but I know the road record was very good. So, if you can win on the road you can win at home.
"Winning on the road is much harder. We’re one of the few sports where you have the distinct advantage of controlling matchups on whistles. There’s no other sport that has that.
"To me that’s the advantage of being at home and coaches and players can take advantage of putting people in good situations to be successful. I think that’s why you see so many strong home records."
The Flames’ five-game homestand continues Wednesday against Buffalo before Detroit comes calling Friday.