As the Calgary Flames get set for their third, and final, five-game road trip of the season, there are reasons to be optimistic that this will be their best of the trips.
The Flames’ previous five game road trips saw them take two of possible 10 points on a tough Western Conference trip where they played the Anaheim Ducks, San Jose Sharks, Los Angeles Kings, Phoenix Coyotes and Dallas Stars in October. They picked up four of 10 points on their Eastern Conference trip in December after stops to play the Buffalo Sabres, New York Rangers, Boston Bruins, Detroit Red Wings and Pittsburgh Penguins.
Aside from Buffalo, nine of the 10 teams from these trips are either in the playoffs or have very real aspirations to sneak in (Phoenix, Dallas, Detroit) as a Wild Card.
Why will this trip be better?
First off, and no offense to the soon-to-be mentioned teams, but a trip to play the Ottawa Senators, Toronto Maple Leafs, Tampa Bay Lightning, Florida Panthers and New Jersey Devils just doesn’t quite compare to the aforementioned teams of previous five-game trips. Any road trip is tough, but those trips in October and December were absolute monsters.
Misery loves company. While the Flames are out of playoff contention, they have the opportunity to put a serious damper on the fading playoff dreams of the Leafs and Devils. Both of these teams will expect to take full points from the Flames to keep their slim chances alive. The Flames will be, in essence, playing in the thick of a playoff race on their stops in Toronto and New Jersey. What a prime time to put together a couple of performances.
Ottawa and Florida have each only won three of their past 10 games, while the Flames, fresh off an impressive home victory over the Rangers, have doubled that amount in winning six of their past 10.
Tampa Bay will be tough at home, as evident by their third-best home record in the Eastern Conference. If the Flames could muster anything from this, it would be the icing on the cake of the trip.
A realistic goal for the Flames would be getting five of a possible 10 points on this final trip east. Closing the season by producing their best five-game road trip could provide a real boost in morale to a team that has had their struggles away from the Scotiabank Saddledome.
Yes, 50 percent (of the points) would be great.