SUN Hockey Pool

Hoping to visit win column often

Kings defenceman Davis Drewiske eludes Flames forward Jamie Lundmark last weekend in Los Angeles....

Kings defenceman Davis Drewiske eludes Flames forward Jamie Lundmark last weekend in Los Angeles. (QMI Agency/Ric Tapia)

RANDY SPORTAK, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:15 AM ET

So far this season, the Calgary Flames have been one of the NHL's best road teams.

The next 11 days will put their road warrior status to the test.

Tonight's clash in Detroit against the Red Wings is the start of a six-game road trip, the longest of the season for the team which racks up air miles quicker than shoppers south of the border devour sale items on Thanksgiving weekend.

The Flames travel from the Motor City through Columbus, Nashville, Phoenix, San Jose and Los Angeles to finish a stretch of 13 of 17 games away from home. It's a run which started this month.

Even those who cast a jaded eye to the hardships of NHL travel, saying it can't be that tough with chartered planes and everyone enjoying a first-class seat, have to admit playing six games over four time zones in 11 nights won't be easy.

This sojourn could turn the Flames into roadkill very quickly.

"It's that old cliche: One game at a time," said centre Daymond Langkow. "We have to get some good rest when we can.

"The best thing is to be ready for that first game and go from there."

The first game is against a Detroit team that beat Calgary in their lone meeting so far this season, but it's struggling to climb into the Western Conference's elite eight despite a strong home mark.

And then it becomes harder for Calgary.

Still, the Flames headed out with a 7-1-3 road mark this season. Rest assured, they want to return to Calgary with that win total in double digits.

Actually, they pretty much expect the win total to be at least 10 after this trip, having confidence from how they've played on the road so far this season.

"Every game's different, but you want to have the same effort each game, and fortunately, we've been able to do that on the road," Langkow said.

"We want to continue to do that."

Their 2-1 victory over Phoenix at home Wednesday night may not have been pretty to watch, but it was a textbook game defensively for Calgary.

Exactly what they want to do away from the Saddledome.

"That's the way we want to play every night, whether we're at home or on the road. We try to be as close to mistake free as we can be," Langkow said.

Collecting 20 road wins in a season is a big achievement. The Flames have done that only six times in franchise history. The most games they've won on the road in any season is 22.

They have the opportunity to go after the franchise record, but this trip will go a long way to finding out whether it's attainable.

"I don't think you approach it any differently from any other trip," said left winger Nigel Dawes.

"It is a long one, but ... there's only one set of back-to-backs, and it's mainly playing every other day."

When they're done scouring a big chunk of North America, the Flames return to a home-heavy slate, with have eight of 11 games at the Saddledome through New Year's Eve.

RANDY.SPORTAK@SUNMEDIA.CA

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ROAD WARRIORS

Flames' six-game road swing starting tonight in Detroit

Tonight Detroit Red Wings 5 p.m. Sportsnet

Tomorrow Columbus Blue Jackets 5 p.m. CBC

Monday Nashville Predators 6 p.m. Sportsnet

Thursday Phoenix Coyotes 7:30 p.m. Pay-per-view

Sat., Dec. 5 San Jose Sharks 8 p.m. CBC

Mon., Dec. 7 Los Angeles Kings 8 p.m. Sportsnet

ALL GAMES BROADCAST ON FAN 960 RADIO


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