Flames try to home in on Kings
CALGARY, Alberta -- One of the biggest reasons that Calgary Flames find themselves contending for a playoff spot has been their play on the road.
While the Flames (25-16-6) have compiled an impressive 13-5-4 road record, they have a less-than-stellar 12-11-2 mark at the Scotiabank Saddledome heading into their home game against the Los Angeles Kings (25-18-5) on Wednesday.
"It's an area that we certainly want to improve on and at the same time we're playing some good hockey on the road and we're right in the thick of things in the playoff race right now," said defenseman Travis Hamonic after practicing with his teammates at the Saddledome on Tuesday. "You can look at it as the glass half empty or half full and realize that we haven't really played all that well at home and we're still in a race and know that we can pick it up at home and help better our chances."
After completing a 4-0 road trip with a 4-1 victory over the Carolina Hurricanes on Jan. 14 to extend their winning streak to seven games, the Flames went their separate ways for their NHL-mandated five-day break.
The Flames then returned home and lost 2-1 in a shootout to the Winnipeg Jets on Saturday before dropping a 2-1 overtime decision to the Buffalo Sabres two nights later.
"We're a team that plays good when we're thumping along, so we want to get back to it," said Calgary coach Glen Gulutzan, whose team will get another four days off -- because of the NHL all-star break -- following their road game against the Edmonton Oilers on Thursday. "We're playing some heavy-caliber teams, so we want to get off to a good start and L.A. is a team that we have to be ready for."
Gulutzan added that the Flames have to forget about what they've done at the Saddledome this season, while trying to incorporate some of what has worked on the road for them at home.
"Gully's right in what he's saying that we can't look back and we've just got to keep moving forward -- buckle down a little bit harder at home and know that we have a chance to make some noise if we can start improving a little bit on our record here," Hamonic said.
After snapping their six-game losing streak by doubling up the New York Rangers 4-2 at home on Sunday, the Kings had a chance to move past the Flames in the Pacific Division standings, but instead dropped a 6-2 decision in Vancouver to the Canucks on Tuesday.
"This one tonight, just throw it out," Kings coach John Stevens said in his post-game press conference. "We had a total refusal to play the game the right way tonight and we got what we deserved."
The Kings trailed 4-1 after 20 minutes against the Canucks and have been outscored 11-1 in the first periods of their past seven games.
"There's no question in our business your spirit's not as good when you lose, and that's the way it should be," Stevens told reporters after L.A.'s pre-game skate in Vancouver on Tuesday morning. "You shouldn't feel good when you lose, even if you think you played well."
Stevens is well aware that his team has fallen out of a playoff spot because of its recent slump.
"But I honestly believe this, and we've talked with our team, it's about us and getting points on the board," Stevens said. "You certainly can't be watching people around you hoping you're getting help, because you're going to need help from 14 teams if you want to get in, so you better help yourselves.
"So, in our situation, our focus is on our own game and getting points on the board for ourselves regardless of what anybody else is doing."
Updated January 24, 2018