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Calgary Flames Road Trip Preview

The Flames head out for six games in eleven nights

NHL: Calgary Flames at Nashville Predators Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Well that certainly was an exciting homestand! After being unable to score with only five goals in the first three games, Calgary exploded for 21 goals in the final four games including seven against St. Louis on Monday. The Flames went 5-2 over seven games played in Calgary and now they take to the road for six straight games over eleven days.

It is going to be a very difficult trip with the Flames travelling to three different time zones to take on six teams with records that are all .500 or better.

Wednesday November 15: Flames @ Detroit Red Wings (8-8-2)

NHL: Detroit Red Wings at Calgary Flames Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

The Flames start out their trip with their first visit to the brand new Little Caesars Arena in Detroit. It’ll be the second meeting between the two clubs in less than a week after Calgary’s 6-3 victory on home ice last Thursday. Detroit has been the definition of average this year on home ice, going 2-2-2, and the Flames will look to push them below .500. The Wings may look for revenge after Brouwer fractured Justin Abdelkader’s cheekbone last week in their fight.

Saturday November 18: Flames @ Philadelphia Flyers (8-7-2)

NHL: Philadelphia Flyers at Calgary Flames Candice Ward-USA TODAY Sports

The Flames never seem to fare well in afternoon games and they also never seem to fare well in Philadelphia, so this could be a tough contest. The Flyers have been a pedestrian 4-3-2 so far on home ice this year. It’s also the first time the Flames will see Brian Elliott in his new orange silks after he left Calgary this past offseason. He’s had a mediocre start to the season going 6-4-1 with a 2.73 GAA and a 0.908 sv%, hopefully the Flames have the book on him.

Monday November 20: Flames @ Washington Capitals (10-7-1)

NHL: Washington Capitals at Calgary Flames Candice Ward-USA TODAY Sports

The Flames took down the Capitals back in October in a defensive game by the score of 2-1. With the Flames newfound offense and the Capitals being the Capitals, this game could get wild quickly. The Caps will present their usual list of offensive juggernauts but hopefully the Flames can knock them down a bit using the 3M line. The Capitals have won five of their last six games.

Wednesday November 22: Flames @ Columbus Blue Jackets (10-7-1)

The Blue Jackets have struggled lately, losing four of their last five but they still look to be a formidable opponent that’s stuck in hockey’s toughest division. Almost a year ago to the date the Flames shutout the Blue Jackets in Columbus and hopefully they can do it again so we don’t have to hear that stupid cannon which scares Johnny Gaudreau (All-Star Game 2015).

Friday November 24: Flames @ Dallas Stars (9-8-0)

NHL: Dallas Stars at Calgary Flames Candice Ward-USA TODAY Sports

The Flames will look for some revenge on Dallas as their road trip swings to the Central Division. Dallas took down the Flames earlier this year by a 2-1 score in Calgary. The Stars have been good at home so far this season going 6-2-0. Both these teams are in similar places, hovering a few games above .500 but having much higher expectations this year. The Stars have a lot of good pieces on their team, and it’s only a matter of time before they really get going.

Saturday November 25: Flames @ Colorado Avalanche (8-7-1)

NHL: Colorado Avalanche at Calgary Flames Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

The Avalanche certainly aren’t a great team, but they’re nowhere near last year’s horrendous team that was one of the worst in NHL history. The Avs have been respectable this year and have flirted around .500. They recently figured out their Matt Duchene situation and the haul they got sets them up to be really good in a few years. It is a winnable game but playing on the second half of the back-to-back will make it a challenge.


3 Keys to Success

The Flames Must Make Smart Line Decisions

With home teams having the final change, it gives them the chance to get preferable matchups on the ice. Perhaps that’s part of the reason the Flames offense finally ignited during the homestand. It is important now that Glen Gulutzan finds a way to properly play his lines as to not set up opponents with chances to score. They seem to have found a good system so I’m fairly confident he will.

Defense Must Tighten Up

It seemed that the Flames traded offensive woes for defensive issues over the last few games. Although they scored 21 goals in four games, they allowed 16 which is a scary amount. The Vancouver game showed that if the Flames run into a hot goaltender, they can’t afford to make the defensive mistakes that they’ve been making. It starts with the D core improving but will come down to the whole team stepping it up.

Goaltending

At the time of writing this I still don’t know the status of Mike Smith after he was injured against St. Louis. It’s no secret that he has given the Flames outstanding goaltending so far this year and any injury would really hurt the team. At the same time I don’t want him rushing back only to re-injure something worse. I would rather he take his time like Jagr did and get to 100% before returning.

Regardless of who’s in net, the Flames will need a goalie who simply doesn’t let weak goals and will give them a chance to win every game. Smith has done that this year, and it may be time for the next man up to do so, whether it be Eddie Lack or one of the Stockton goalies.

If the Flames can get at least 7-8 points out of this trip, I’ll be happy and if they can 9 or more I’d be thrilled.

Poll

What is a successful road trip for the Flames?

This poll is closed

  • 1%
    At Least 5 Points
    (4 votes)
  • 42%
    6-8 Points
    (123 votes)
  • 50%
    9-10 Points
    (148 votes)
  • 5%
    11-12 Points
    (17 votes)
292 votes total Vote Now