THE DISNEYLAND CURSE
20 straight regular season losses.
That's the cloud hanging over the Calgary Flames' heads as they head into the Honda Center on Tuesday for their first battle with the Anaheim Ducks since the two tangled in the Western Conference semi-finals last spring.
The Flames haven't won a regular season game in Orange County since Jan. 19, 2004 and they've lost 29 of their last 30 games at the Honda Center. It's a drought that pre-dates the entire Calgary roster, captain Mark Giordano, the longest serving Flame, included.
That win, over 11 years ago, had a lineup that included Flames assistant coach Martin Gelinas and assistant general manager Craig Conroy. Roman Turek was in net, making 36 saves in a 5-1 Flames victory.
Head coach Bob Hartley isn't a big fan of history, though. That dreary dry spell doesn't bother him and he doesn't want his troops focusing on things they cannot change. Things that happened in years past matter not.
What matters is how they prepare and approach each and every game.
"What went on in 1940 and what went on in 2005, 2010, what can we change? Elvis is dead, the Beatles have split," he said last January, before the Flames played their last game of the 2014-15 regular season in Anaheim.
Tuesday's game in Anaheim (8:00 PM MT, Sportsnet West) is the start of the Flames three-game Pacific Division road trip that will close out their November schedule. A solid showing at the Honda Center would not only knock the so-called Disneyland Curse off their backs but go a long way as they head into a tough back-to-back set of games in Arizona and San Jose on Friday and Saturday.
Karri Ramo is in the groove.
The 28-year-old has settled into the role of the Flames' number one netminder since being summoned from a short stint in Stockton in late October, going 6-4-0 in his last 10 starts and allowing two or fewer goals in five of those appearances.
On Friday, he turned in an 18-save performance which included his best stop of the season, batting the puck out of mid-air after flipping himself around onto his stomach.
"Karri right now, over the last ten games or since he came back, he’s the Karri that we know," Hartley stated. "He’s competitive, focused, very confident, and this guy never quits. You look at every situation around his net, he fights until the whistle and that’s who he is. That’s how we want him. I believe in hard workers and character players and he’s one of them."
Ramo attributes the consistency as a key part of his success.
"When you play a lot, it’s easier to get things going in your game," he explained. "It gives you confidence. It makes preparing to play easier. On the mental side, it’s easy too, because you’re only focusing on playing games. You don’t have to worry about anything else."
The Flames will be counting on him to remain steady this week, facing off against the Ducks (38 goals for), the Coyotes (55 goals for), and the Sharks (59 goals for) in crucial divisional match-ups.
Sean Monahan is back to his usual self.
The 21-year-old had just two goals and seven points in 12 outings in October, a bit of a slow start for someone who managed 22 goals and 31 goals in his first two NHL seasons.
But that slight drought appears to be over. Since the calendar turned over to November, he has five goals and eight points in nine games. In his last four appearances, Monahan has three goals and four points.
He also inched closer to making Flames history this past month when he scored the overtime winner in Washington on Nov. 13. It was his fifth overtime goal of his career -- one shy of Jarome Iginla's franchise record six.
"Shooting [more] plus he's skating very well ... his stride, he's a powerful skater," was Hartley's assessment of Monahan's play. "When his feet are moving like they're moving now, he's definitely a threat.
"He's playing very well right now and that's great news for us."
Monahan is second in team scoring with seven goals and 15 points in 21 games.
ON THE SHELF
The sick bay filled up last week but the Flames are hopeful they will get plenty of bodies back this week.
The Flames went without Kris Russell for the final two periods and overtime of Friday's 2-1 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks. The defenceman suffered an upper body injury in the opening stanza and did not skate on Saturday. He remains day-to-day and Hartley expects him to travel with the team this week.
They were also without the services of Jiri Hudler on Friday, who has been struggling with the flu over the past few days. He did not practice on Saturday and neither did blueliner Ladislav Smid, who also has been stricken with the flu.
Jonas Hiller, who has been out with a lower body injury since Oct. 28, has been practicing with the team and is expected to be cleared to play in the near future. Last week, he preached patience with the malady.
"You want to be out there as soon as possible, but you can do a lot of damage if you go out too early," he said. "It’s a lot how you feel, not like a broken bone where they can tell you it’s all healed up. In the end, it’s how I feel."
Lance Bouma remains sidelined with a broken fibula. He is out indefinitely.
The Flames start did them no favours in their goal of returning to the Stanley Cup Playoffs next spring but they have made strides this month.
They're 6-4-0 in their last ten and are getting closer to their divisional rivals in the standings. Just one point ahead of them is the Ducks. Four points away is the Arizona Coyotes. The Canucks are five points ahead of them.
This week's slate of games, all against Pacific Division teams, are extremely important in the Flames bid to make their way up the Western Conference ladder.
|Pacific ||GP ||W ||L ||OT ||PTS ||ROW ||GF ||GA ||HOME ||AWAY ||L10 |
| ||San Jose ||21 ||13 ||8 ||0 ||26 ||12 ||59 ||51 ||3-5-0 ||10-3-0 ||7-3-0 |
| ||Los Angeles ||20 ||12 ||8 ||0 ||24 ||11 ||51 ||45 ||7-5-0 ||5-3-0 ||5-5-0 |
| ||Vancouver ||22 ||8 ||8 ||6 ||22 ||7 ||64 ||60 ||3-4-3 ||5-4-3 ||2-6-2 |
| ||Arizona ||20 ||10 ||9 ||1 ||21 ||10 ||55 ||59 ||3-4-0 ||7-5-1 ||5-5-0 |
| ||Anaheim ||21 ||7 ||10 ||4 ||18 ||6 ||38 ||55 ||4-3-3 ||3-7-1 ||5-3-2 |
| ||Calgary ||21 ||8 ||12 ||1 ||17 ||8 ||50 ||75 ||5-5-0 ||3-7-1 ||6-4-0 |
| ||Edmonton ||20 ||7 ||12 ||1 ||15 ||7 ||55 ||63 ||4-5-1 ||3-7-0 ||4-5-1 |