Dome awaits road awakening

STEVE MACFARLANE, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:58 AM ET

There's barely time to kiss the wives or play with the kids before the Calgary Flames jet out of town again.

And that's not a bad thing considering the way they've played at the Saddledome lately.

Home for just one date tonight after a two-game trek through Southern California, the team darts away to Detroit tomorrow to kick off its longest trip of the season -- with games against the Red Wings, Columbus Blue Jackets, Nashville Predators, Phoenix Coyotes, San Jose Sharks and the Los Angeles Kings capping off a stretch of eight of nine on the road.

For some reason, the Flames seem more comfortable after sleeping in hotels and travelling on charters than they have in their own beds and cars.

A 7-1-3 road record versus a 6-5 struggle at the Dome is not what anyone would have expected at this point for a team that has historically been considered one of the toughest to play against when surrounded by the C of Red.

Listless and lackadaisical too often while winning just one of their last five at home, the Flames should have considered booking a block of rooms at a Calgary hotel last night before suiting up against the Coyotes today.

But maybe such a brief interruption of a travel slog that started with games in Los Angeles and Anaheim on the weekend will be enough to make it feel like the Dome is just another landing strip.

It would help if the Flames could continue to play like they did in SoCal, where they claimed three of four points to continue the streak of earning at least a single point in seven straight road contests.

The Flames have scored first in 17 of their 22 games.

At home, they let off the gas, turn on the cruise control and hop in the backseat.

On the road, even when they've taken their foot off the pedal, they've managed to get back into the driver's seat more often than not.

Just look at the win over the Kings Saturday afternoon.

Jarome Iginla scored just 13 seconds into the game, but the Flames managed nothing more until after allowing the Kings back in the game with two goals in less than a minute.

Iginla scored again a few minutes later, and the Flames took off from there, dominating the rest of the way en route to a 5-2 victory.

It took them a little longer to get their point on the Ducks, but the result was deserved after first and third periods full of tenacious plays.

Their lapse cost them a 1-0 lead when the Ducks responded with two goals in 68 seconds later in the first period, but the Flames kept the surging home side at bay throughout a scary second period during which the visitors were a man or more down much of the time.

In the third, it was the Ducks who were under attack, and Iginla finally beat J-S Giguere with 18 seconds left to send the game to overtime.

There were no similar responses at the Dome in the embarrassing loss to the Chicago Blackhawks, or in the two they dropped to the Colorado Avalanche, or the Red Wings' win Halloween night.

Flames fans deserve better at home. The coaching staff will demand it.

STEVE.MACFARLANE@SUNMEDIA.CA


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