Road hammers

Calgary Flames' team captain Jarome Iginla. (SUN/Al Charest)

Calgary Flames' team captain Jarome Iginla. (SUN/Al Charest)

STEVE MACFARLANE -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 1:03 PM ET

DALLAS -- Four contests on the road to start the season and a five-game swing to cap off the opening month.

October isn't being kind to the Calgary Flames.

Don't expect excuses from winger Darren McCarty, who knows how important it is to get some points away from the 'Dome.

"We knew looking at the schedule that October didn't really favour us," said McCarty yesterday before flying to Dallas for tonight's game against the Stars.

"We've got one win on the road. To be successful in this league, you've got to be a good road team."

Captain Jarome Iginla agreed.

"It's time for us to start playing better on the road," said Iginla.

"We need to be a good road team. Playoff teams are good road teams and that's what we need to become."

The Flames got off to a slow start this season, going 1-3 on the first four-game trip with losses to the Minnesota Wild, Detroit Red Wings and Colorado Avalanche.

Starting tonight, the Flames visit every team in the Pacific Division -- Dallas, Los Angeles, Anaheim, Phoenix and San Jose.

McCarty admits the task at hand is a difficult one.

"We've got our work cut out for us," said McCarty. "It's not going to be easy but I think we're up to the challenge."

During their four games at the 'Dome, the Flames beat Edmonton twice but lost to the Phoenix Coyotes.

The Stars also stole their thunder in a 3-2 overtime loss during the home-opener.

But there were enough signs of life from the defending Western Conference champions to believe their sub-.500 record won't stay that low for long.

"We're starting to get on the same page. Things are starting to go," said McCarty. "We took a lot from (Thursday's) game."

Defensively, the team has been solid lately. After allowing 20 goals over the first four games, the Flames let opponents score six times at home -- and one was into an empty cage.

"Now we have to concentrate on getting more shots and more scoring chances," said McCarty. "Penalty killing (has) really come on. We scored some key (powerplay) goals during this homestand. Things we've just got to build on.

"We all want it now, everybody -- fans, media, everybody in here. But it's not going to come like that. It's a building process."

Consistency is now the biggest key to improvement. Specifically, said Iginla, in the skating department.

"We have quick players. We need to get skating better," said Iginla.

"In the second half of the game against Edmonton (Thursday), we started to skate more -- which gets more forecheck, which gets more continuous pressure.

"That's what we need to do on the road, more than ever. That's just one of the things we need to carry over. We need to keep doing things at full speed and bring it up a level."


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