Road woes for Flames

RANDY SPORTAK, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:04 AM ET

The Calgary Flames shouldn't need any reminders of their last road trip.

Darryl Sutter's words should still be reverberating in their heads.

As the Flames embark on their three-game trek that begins tonight in Anaheim, the reminders of their last sojourn are aplenty:

- Losses on back-to-back nights in Denver and Dallas.

- A players-only meeting hosted by captain Jarome Iginla.

- A session with Sutter, in which the GM told his charges their road record (11-11-1) was not good enough.

"It was a good reminder," said Flames defenceman Cory Sarich. "You need those now and then. But if you just look at our record -- it's not impressive. A guy should take pride in all numbers, and that's the one we need to make the biggest improvement on."

Monday's 6-2 thrashing of the Montreal Canadiens not only snapped the Flames' four-game losing skid but sent them to Disneyland feeling like they'd turned the corner.

Play more games like they did against the Habs and this trip, which also goes through Los Angeles and Phoenix, could be very successful.

Certainly they won't continue their recent road struggles -- three straight losses and one win in five outings.

Beating the Habs, even though the Canadiens are struggling right now, was that shot of confidence the Flames have been needing.

"It's a fickle thing, pro sports, that way," said Flames left-winger Michael Cammalleri. "When it comes to confidence, it's amazing how quickly things can change in this game.

"We've been squeezing it a bit -- pressing the last few days -- and it's been gloomy. Then we get a win in a big, emotional game, and now, we'll go on the road with tons of confidence -- and that's a nice feeling."

What remains to be seen is whether they can pack their top-notch game and bring it with them. This is a team that's been outstanding at home for the past few seasons -- 20-7-3 this year -- but mediocre to bad when on the road.

"You have to try and do the exact same thing," Sarich said. "Our problem is we get on the road and we get away from what makes us successful. It's more of a mental hurdle, I think."

At least they have the momentum of a win, as opposed to the frustration of a lengthy swoon.

"It's not always easy to carry forward, but you can sure try," Sarich said. "It's a lot easier to carry momentum from a win than try to conjure up some again from a loss."

The key for the Flames is to play the same way they did to beat the Habs. They were assertive on the forecheck, physical, limited mistakes and scored timely goals.

Pretty much the game plan laid out night after night.

Best of all, Sarich pointed out, was they played a strong game defensively, which may have been lost in a 6-2 victory. The Canadiens went nearly 15 minutes without a shot on goal and were limited to just a handful of scoring chances.

"I've been talking till I'm blue in the face that our offence stems from good defence," Sarich said. "On most teams, that's the recipe for success, and that's how we've been successful so far this season. It's making sure, even if it's not in the defensive zone, we're not turning pucks over. It's getting pucks deep when you've got nothing.

"Our forwards did a fantastic job of that (Monday)."

And they want to continue that. After all, they wouldn't want Sutter coming into the room and giving another pep talk.

"He expects a lot of out of us, and we don't think we have a problem with him expecting a lot out of us," Cammalleri said. "It's a results-driven business, and his job is to employ us, and our job is to get results. He wanted more of us, and we'll try to build from here."


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