Flames ready to become road warriors … again
Seven games, 11 nights. For the Calgary Flames, the next couple of weeks is going to be a grind.
Their game Thursday against the Canadiens kicks off another epic road swing through the Eastern Conference. Montreal. Toronto. Ottawa. Philadelphia. Buffalo. New York. Boston.
Two back-to-back games to open and close the adventure. And bookended by home games that offer no respite from the punishment.
“We start tomorrow with nine in 15. I’m glad we had a day off,” Flames head coach Darryl Sutter said heading into the contest against the San Jose Sharks Tuesday night. “You don’t understand how hard it is on these players. The schedule is tough.”
Even though the Flames came away from their first extended road trip with a perfect 5-0 record earlier this year – a big part of their 7-2-3 record – they came home feeling the effects. Overtime losses to the Nashville Predators and Dallas Stars were mashed between shutout wins over the Flyers and New York Rangers. But they seemed to run completely out of gas in the third period en route to a 4-1 loss to the Sharks on Tuesday.
The score was favourable for a heavily outshot Sharks team. But the visitors came out strong in the final 20 minutes, while the Calgary Flames collapsed as the Sharks netted a couple of empty net goals.
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“We’ve played seven or eight games where I wouldn’t call it ‘A’ games. But we’ve certainly given it what we’ve got. And most of us brought really good ‘B’ games,” Sutter said of the ups and downs that can come with more challenging pockets of the schedule. “The guys that didn’t have really good ‘B’ games better at least have that for the next little while. It’s a tough schedule.”
Milan Lucic is looking forward to getting back out on the road. Maybe because of how well the Calgary Flames clicked during that first one on the heels of two straight losses (one in OT) to start the season.
“The last one was fun – especially the on-ice, the most important part – so you look forward to going back out there,” Lucic said.
“To be honest, I think having an early five-game road trip was critical to our team,” Lucic said. “We are a team that enjoys being around each other and the road is where we get to come together and bond and get to do things we don’t normally get to do at home because we have – especially like myself – other responsibilities.”