SUN Hockey Pool

Flames sputtering at Stampede Park

STEVE MACFARLANE, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:59 AM ET

Home sweet home?

More like doomed at the Dome.

Only four teams as of Friday afternoon had fewer wins at home than the Calgary Flames at the Saddledome this season.

Dropping six straight on home ice -- five during their current nine-game losing streak -- the Flames have failed to live up to their reputation of making the Dome a difficult place to play.

An optimistic look at the numbers sees the 12-12-3 home record as a collection of 27 points from 27 games. But the winning percentage is sub-.500 at slightly more than 44% (.444).

Unacceptable in head coach Brent Sutter's eyes.

"No one accepts it -- fans don't accept it, certainly ownership doesn't accept it, management doesn't accept it, coaches don't accept it," Sutter said after Thursday's loss in Phoenix.

"I'm sure the players don't accept it, either."

Scoring just 62 times in 27 games at home, the total ranks one goal above the lowly last-place Toronto Maple Leafs.

It's a symptom of everything lacking in front of the Sea of Red.

"I think a lot of it has to do with our emotional level isn't where it needs to be at home," Sutter said. "It starts with preparation, obviously.

"We don't initiate how the game needs to be played on a consistent basis at home. It hurts us."

Sutter accepted some of the responsibility, but it ultimately comes down to the Flames players putting aside the daily distractions that come with being a husband or father and earning their salaries.

"At home you have other elements that don't take place on the road that you have to be able to prepare through, and fight through those things," Sutter said. "Remember why you're in Calgary, what you're doing -- it's to play hockey first and foremost and be good at what you do, and play within an identity of what your team is."

No one would suggest they shirk their duties at home.

Responsibilities at the rink deserve the same passion.

"It's certainly been addressed and talked about and harped on and all those things," Sutter said. "But there needs to be a response."

STEVE.MACFARLANE@SUNMEDIA.CA


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