Conroy needed to be road warrior

RANDY SPORTAK -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:11 AM ET

Living out of a suitcase is no big switch for Craig Conroy.

He's been doing it for a couple of weeks now.

Yet, that doesn't diminish his excitement about his first road trip in his second stint as a Calgary Flame.

"It's no different for me, I'm feeling like I'm on the road when I'm here anyway," said Conroy, who departed Los Angeles Jan. 25 and was traded to the Flames mid-trip.

"I'm looking forward to being out on the road and being with these guys."

Fortunately, he has a bit more of a wardrobe, having zipped back to California for one night on the weekend.

"I've got some clean suits but I've got to find a dry cleaner close to here when I get back," he said with a laugh.

"I'm just gonna take everything over there."

After tonight's clash in Columbus, the Flames visit Buffalo Saturday and Detroit Sunday.

The Flames have the third-worst road winning percentage in the Western Conference and likely can use some of Conroy's enthusiasm.

Maybe the always upbeat and energetic centre can be a tonic for the club with a putrid 7-12-6 mark away from the Saddledome.

It can't hurt.

"I haven't been on the road yet, so I'm not really sure what's gone on. But I've seen the record and can't believe this team has that record on the road," Conroy said.

"I look back at the team when we won in the playoffs in '04, it was all on the road. You've got to find that mentality you can go in and win games."

It's an elixir the Flames haven't found yet, a situation more baffling since the Flames have the NHL's best home record.

Conroy suggests the biggest reason for the road woes has been poor special teams, especially an ineffective penalty kill.

"And bad breaks," he said. "I watched the Chicago game in Chicago (the day before he was traded) and things were looking good and suddenly -- wham! -- it happened," he said.

"I'm trying to figure out why but you can't until you get in there and get in the game. But I don't think there's any big difference to the game at home than on the road."

One thing is for certain: The Flames aren't leaving for this journey in a great mood.

Sure, they went 3-0-1 in their four-game homestand but the lingering taste of blowing a late lead and losing in a shootout to the Blackhawks Tuesday night will provide some motivation.

"For sure. After that game, everybody's a little upset. It's disappointing," Conroy said.

"We've got to get to Columbus, remember what happened and stay that way. We need to play with that edge."

And then comes a visit to Buffalo, where they'll meet the Eastern Conference leading Sabres.

"They've got a good goaltender, a good team and their record speaks for itself. They're fun to watch, everybody is talking about them, and for us to go in their rink and see how good they are is going to be fun for us and a great challenge," Conroy said.

"These are games you love, like that Vancouver game the other night."

As Conroy pointed out, it's just a matter of building momentum on the road.

"We get some confidence, we'll get some wins," he said. "We are a good team and can be a good team on the road, and need to see ourselves that way."


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