Flames need to focus on more home-ice wins

RANDY SPORTAK, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:47 PM ET

Regardless of the name adorning their home, the Flames have to bank on winning more often in Calgary than they did last season.

The Saddledome — now sponsored by Scotiabank — used to be one of the toughest place to play, but visiting teams were leaving with a two-point withdrawal much too often last year.

The Flames posted a disappointing 20-17-4 record in the 2009-10 season, which new forward Brendan Morrison was surprised to find out.

“For a couple of years, they had the best home-ice record in the league,” said Morrison, who played for Washington last year but visited many times with the Vancouver Canucks. “That’s what we’ve got to get back to. Twenty wins at home, is not going to cut it.

“When I think of the Sea of Red, I think of a loud building and the games were intense. Every time you came in, you knew it was going to be a battle. You knew you were going to get hit. It was challenging and it was fun.”

The Flames opened the season with a disappointing 4-0 defeat to the Edmonton Oilers, but have a golden chance to put that loss in the past starting with Sunday night’s clash with the Los Angeles Kings.

It begins a three-game homestand and starts a stretch of eight of 11 at the Saddledome.

“Winning all the time is very important, but you have to have success at home. It’s a given,” said head coach Brent Sutter. “You have to play well at home. Look around the league, and any team that has success at home, for the better part of it, is a team that’s always (in the hunt).

“We need to start playing the way we’re capable of playing and making sure we’re at the level we need to be at home. (Sunday) is the best time to start.”

The Flames skated to 30 home wins in each of the first two seasons after the lockout wiped out the 2004-05 campaign. In 2008-09, they won 27 outings.

Something was definitely lacking last season, and something has to be changed.

“Emotion. Intensity,” Sutter said. “No distractions during the day. Prepare. Make sure you have one thing in mind that day, and that’s the game at night.

“We need intensity and emotion at home. Buildings that are active buildings, you’ve got to feed off that.”

“I don’t think there was one thing wrong,” added defenceman Robyn Regehr. “You can look at special teams, not enough offence, a whole bunch of reasons.

“If you look at those teams that were successful here with the good home records, we came out with really good starts. We’d come out and either hammer teams physically or out-skate them, do whatever you had to, to make it difficult, and I don’t think that happened as much as it used to.”

Actually, those same elements were missing in the season-opening drubbing against their Alberta rivals.

Which is why Game 2 of the season is already a pivotal match.

“We’d better have urgency,” defenceman Mark Giordano said. “We weren’t even close the other night to playing the way we have to. We’ve been talking about wanting a good start to the season, and 0-2 is not a good start. We have to play a good, solid home game and get on track here.”


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