SUN Hockey Pool

Road doesn't lead to ruin

RANDY SPORTAK -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 9:13 AM ET

At home, the Calgary Flames have been almost unbeatable this season.

On the road, though, they certainly won't scare Mad Max.

The Flames are riding a five-game winning streak at the Saddledome where they sport a 6-1-1 mark.

But they're a dismal 2-6-1 record on the road, which they'll look to improve tonight when they meet the Phoenix Coyotes (7 p.m., Sportsnet) at the Glendale Arena.

"There was a lot of focus on getting those four (wins) and getting above .500," said Flames defenceman Andrew Ference. "There was a couple of big battles in there and we were geared up for it.

"But it's not like we don't get geared up for away games or become a different team in the locker-room or have a different mindset because we're in a different building. It's just that our game has evolved over the past four games. We were making strides on that last trip in Phoenix and L.A. and San Jose but it wasn't quite there."

While Calgary's five-game road swing to end October was a disappointment at 1-3-1, it's not like the Flames played terribly.

In fact, GM/head coach Darryl Sutter insists his team's performances weren't much different from those that led to four-straight wins at home.

"It's a fine line between those games and the homestand, a real fine line," Sutter said. "There's a good example the other night. There was a penalty shot (Chuck Kobasew missed) and I thought it was gonna cost us the game.

"If you look at that last trip, we had a penalty shot that would have put us up substantially in a game, we had our best player with a breakaway to win a game for us, late in one game our best player hit the post to tie a game. That's how fine it is."

Ference believes there is one key difference. The Flames were much better defensively and managed to hold late leads.

"The last road trip, we started making strides but we gave up a couple of late goals. I think we played almost full games," he said.

"I think we took the last few baby steps here at home.

"We need to keep building on it and remembering what we did on these last four games compared to what we did on those road games we lost. I know everyone knows the differences but if we keep those fresh and keep those reminders how our team can be successful and finish the job off -- not letting Phoenix score the late goal, not letting San Jose come back when we have the lead -- we'll be fine."

Thrown into the mix of this one-game sojourn that will be followed by another four-game homestand is the desire for a little revenge against the Coyotes.

The Flames have met the Desert Dogs twice this season and came away losers both times.

A win tonight is paramount to at least having a chance at an even season series.


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