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Players know they must improve home record down the stretch to make the post-season dance

by AARON VICKERS @aavickers /

The Dome cooking hasn't been particularly appetizing for the Flames this season.

Not with the number of losses being served up.

And the group knows that a .500 or worse record on home ice isn't the recipe for making the Stanley Cup Playoffs, which is sure to leave a bitter taste in their mouths.

"We need to be better, for sure, at home," veteran forward Kris Versteeg acknowledged before the full question could be spit out.

"Each team that goes to the playoffs are all the best teams, generally, they know how to play the right way on the road and then they bring that road mentality home. Sometimes maybe we try to put on a show for whatever reason that may be, when we need to play the same way we do on the road."

Home-ice advantage hasn't happened at Scotiabank Saddledome, at least not yet.

Among teams within a win of a playoff berth, the Flames have a home-worst 14-14-0 record. The Boston Bruins, third in the Atlantic Division, are the next closest at 15-13-0.

"If you're going to be in that playoff race you have to win some home games," forward Michael Frolik said. "If you want to be there you have to win at home especially. The home record should be above .500 for sure, I think.

"If we are even now, we've got a lot of games at home in March that are going to be huge, for sure."

No foolin'.

Last season, the San Jose Sharks were the only team to finish with a sub .500 record on home ice (18-20-3) and still qualify for the playoffs.

In 2014-15, the Minnesota Wild owned the worst home record among teams to advance beyond the regular season at 22-13-6. A year prior, the Detroit Red Wings qualified with an 18-13-10 home mark. 

Including hosting the Philadelphia Flyers on Wednesday (7:30 MT; SN360, SNW, SN960), the Flames have 13 games remaining on the docket in Calgary to improve their mark.

And boost their chances at playing into the postseason.

"The thing that stands out is we've got to play 60 minutes, simple, like we do on the road," said defenceman Deryk Engelland. "We go on the road and we know we've got to play the right way and we do.


"We've got the energy in the building. If we can play the same way for a full 60 minutes and grind teams down and when things are there make a play, when they're not dump it in and go to work."

Calgary hasn't finished with a losing record on home ice since the 2002-03 season, when they pieced together a 14-16-10-1 campaign and, predictably, missed the playoffs. The Flames finished 19-19-3 in 2013-14 and, yes, failed to qualify again.

A 23-13-5 regular-season record at home helped Calgary finish third in the Pacific in 2014-15 - their first playoff appearance in six seasons.

"On the road we play a more simple game and sometimes at home we try to do too much and aren't as patient and try to rush things," Frolik said. "I think we just need to have the same game plan as what we have on the road.

"You can see on the road we've had some success just being simple and put the puck behind the opponent and don't try too much.

"Sometimes when the crowd is cheering and stuff, you need to make sure you're on the same game plan all the time. That's what our goal is, to do that."

As for away from the Dome, Calgary is 14-12-3 this season. It's not a drastic difference from the home numbers, but the devil is in the details, according to Versteeg.

"I know our road record is fairly similar, but I still think we give better efforts on the road consistently and I think that just comes from playing the right way," he said.

 "Playing at home is difficult, especially when you're young. You have to understand that it's not about making the fans happy. It's about winning, and in the end that makes the fans happier.

"We have to bring that same mentality that we bring night-in and night-out when we're playing against teams on the road and smart situations and periods.

"That's something we haven't done consistently here at the Saddledome."


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