The Flames’ measly haul of 26 points from a possible 68 on the road will surely be of concern to head coach Bob Hartley. Not only does that represent the lowest away point total in the Western Conference, but the manner in which they’re losing games is inexcusable.
Saturday night, March 15 in Arizona, saw the Flames enter the third period tied at two with the host, Phoenix Coyotes. Say what you want about the refereeing but there is no excuse to take six minor penalties in the final 20 minutes of a game. Coyotes’ captain Shane Doan tipped in his 65th career game winner on a powerplay as Phoenix prevailed 3-2. Simple math will highlight the fact that the Coyotes spent nearly 60 percent of the final frame on the man advantage. It would be absolutely ludicrous for any Flames fan, or anyone associated with the Flames for that matter, to think that Calgary could’ve won the game or even stolen a point under those circumstances.
One week earlier, the Flames visited B.C. to face the Vancouver Canucks. With the Canucks still reeling from the Roberto Luongo trade, Calgary had a glorious opportunity to go into Rogers Arena and grab both points. Calgary came out and peppered the shaky Eddie Lack, who had conceded 5 goals on 17 shots two nights earlier against the Dallas Stars in his first game as their new number one goalie, with all of three shots in the opening 20 minutes. Three!!! Flames tough guy, Brian McGrattan, opened the scoring two minutes into the second period with a slapshot from the red line that beat Lack. It is nearly impossible to find a bigger invitation to shoot from anywhere than scoring from center ice. That being said, the Flames could only muster 18 more attempts on Lack, who saved them all, in the final 38 minutes as Vancouver scored once in the second and again in the third period to take claim a 2-1 victory.
Yes, a gutsy road win in Texas was sandwiched between those two disastrous losses. The Flames displayed confidence in the offensive end and, deservedly, overcame a two goal deficit to edge the Stars 4-3 in a shootout Friday night. Outings like that have been too infrequent this season for the struggling Flames, however.
With a five-game road trip looming in their remaining schedule, and seven of their final 14 games to come on the road, now is the time for the Flames to show some consistency and finish their travels away from Calgary with conviction.