After a month without playing in front of the Sea of Red, the Calgary Flames return home for an all-Canadian matchup against Ottawa on Thursday.
The Flames last played at the Saddledome a month ago today, a 4-2 loss to the Boston Bruins. In the aftermath of that disappointing loss, there was no inclination Darryl Sutter’s team wouldn’t return home for a game until midway through the first month of 2022.
Such is life in the Omicron era.
They were supposed to host the New York Islanders tonight, but everyone knows all to well what got in the way.
The Flames return home after three straight losses to the top three teams in the Eastern Conference. While those defeats are nothing to be embarrassed about, the Flames will be elated to finally return to the friendly confines of the Scotiabank Saddledome.
The bulk of remaining games are on home ice
Twenty two of Calgary’s 33 games have been played in enemy territory. That’s a staggering 67 percent. Sutter’s side have performed admirably on the road, winning 13 of 22. If the Flames can sustain that remarkable level of consistency on the road, they’ll fancy their chances of climbing the Western Conference standings.
That desirable outcome is predicated on the Flames finding their groove on home ice. Of 49 remaining games, 30, or 61 percent, are on home ice. Thursday’s encounter against Ottawa, who owns the third worst point percentage in the league (34.5), presents a perfect opportunity for the Flames to get back on track and win their first home game since beating Pittsburg 2-1 on Nov. 29.
By the way, the Penguins have lost just twice since leaving Calgary with their collective tail between their legs. It’s a feather in Calgary’s cap I’m obligated to boast about.
It’s crucial for Sutter’s team to go back to basics against the lowly Sens, who haven’t played since being shellacked on the road by Toronto 6-0 on New Year’s Day.
Yikes. That’s a long time to ruminate over such a humiliating defeat.
To say the Sens are well rested is the understatement of 2022. However, with excessive rest comes invariable rust.
Let’s hope so, anyway.
If Sutter’s boys can put together a solid outing and win on their return to the ‘Dome, the positive mood around the arena will carry them through to Tuesday, when they face an entirely different test against a dominant Florida Panthers team who thrashed Calgary 6-2 in the Sunshine State on Jan. 4.
One step at a time, though, for a Flames team who couldn’t be happier to at long last enjoy some home cooking. Now it’s for the starving Stampede boys to feast on the struggling Sens.