October 18, 2007
All the comforts of 'Dome
By RANDY SPORTAK -- Sun Media
By the time the sun came up, the pain was gone for Alex Tanguay and the Calgary Flames.
On the heels of blowing a four-goal lead in a 5-4 shootout loss to Colorado Tuesday night to end their four-game road trip with a 2-1-1 record, Tanguay showed he still had a sense of humour and could see the bright side.
"Did we beat the win total already that we had last year? I'm not sure, but we're close with two," the Flames left winger said with a laugh.
"We all knew we were capable of winning on the road. Last (game) was frustrating, but we have some home games to make up for it."
Lots and lots of home dates.
Starting with tonight's clash against the Los Angeles Kings, the Flames begin a seven-game homestand. In fact, they play 10 of the next 12 at the Saddledome, giving them a golden chance to make a run to the top of the Northwest Division standings.
"We're at home now, and we really have to gain as much room as possible on teams ahead of us," said defenceman Robyn Regehr. "Minnesota is having a great start to the season again this year, and we can't afford to let them get out of our sight too far.
"It's extremely important we start winning games, do it the proper way and build a better team."
Last season, the Flames were besieged by talk of their poor road record. Their 30 wins at home was the only reason they made the playoffs.
This year, they've yet to win at the Saddledome, although they've only played twice at home, losing in regulation to Philadelphia and in overtime to Vancouver.
The long-term expectation will be to rattle off a bunch of wins, but the short-term goal is to beat a Los Angeles club which has two victories bookending a five-game losing streak.
"It is a long one, but the first thing you have to do is really try to be prepared for the first game because we haven't won here, yet," said head coach Mike Keenan.
"I think you try to get some consistency here, build some momentum and build from there."
Consistency would be a huge step for the Flames. They've shown plenty of ability to score -- in fact they set a record by having a player score two goals in all six games to start the season -- but have been plagued by, among other things, poor defence, terrible penalty killing and a bad period in nearly every outing.
"We've had leads, which is refreshing," Keenan said.
"I think it's a group that has to learn a lot, like playing a full 60 minutes."
You're not alone if that comment caught you off guard, since the Flames are a veteran-laden team with only one rookie -- the backup goalie.
"I'm not surprised. They're a new group," Keenan said. "Hockey is a team sport, and they're a rookie group in terms of time together."