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Flames get another shot at making hay on home ice

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Calgary Flames

Another painful gap between games for the Calgary Flames. And once again, the topic of conversation as they prepped for some time at home, was about trying to take advantage of their ice at altitude.

Because of the Omicron outbreak and the NHL’s reluctance to play games north of the Canada/U.S. border because of the monetary loss from half capacity (or less) buildings, the Flames have played just 11 games at the Saddledome so far.

With a 4-3-4 record on home ice, there’s plenty of room for improvement. And lots of trade talk, too.

“We do have a heavy portion of our schedule now at home, so it’s so important that we use that to our advantage,” said Calgary Flames associate coach Ryan Huska via Zoom on Wednesday. “I think you put the Saddledome into the equation — it’s one of the older character buildings still left. The altitude, I think you throw that into the equation. We can use this as a place where teams don’t want to come in and play against us.”

So far, it hasn’t been too scary. But there’s plenty of time to change that. A heavy load remains to be played at the Saddledome. Thursday’s game comes after another lengthy layoff for the Flames. They’ve been idle since Jan. 7 in Carolina. But their opponent is even more rusty. The Ottawa Senators – owner of the other Tkachuk brother – have played only one game in the last 25 days.

The Sens dropped a New Year’s Day Battle of Ontario matchup 6-0 to the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Flames feel like they haven’t played in forever

“I was just talking with (Elias Lindholm) after practice today and saying it feels like we haven’t played in a year,” Calgary Flames winger Blake Coleman said Wednesday. “It will be nice to be at home.”

His team hasn’t played at the Dome since Dec. 11. Shut down because of their COVID-19 outbreak, the league then postponed more matches trying to wait out the restrictions in Canada. Some games, though, could not be easily rescheduled. This is one of them. So is their next game – against the Florida Panthers next Tuesday.

Fans, unfortunately, won’t be able to participate in the usual revelry. No food or beverage sales are allowed. The Calgary Flames players hope to offer something else to get their juices flowing.

“I think we’d all agree, as a group, that we need to be better at home than we have been this season,” Coleman said.

“It’s easier on the body, it’s more sleep. There are a lot of intangibles that go into the benefits of being at home for long stretches. It certainly should work to our advantage but, obviously, that only goes as far as how well you prepare and show up to play.

“I expect we’ll rally around that and go on some good stretches here.”

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