You’ve got to take advantage of the home games when you have them. We’ve done a good job on the road so far. We’ve just got to try to come in here tomorrow and have a big game. - Lance Bouma
CALGARY, AB -- The Calgary Flames have survived two lengthy road trips in the infancy of the season. Now they’re hoping to make waves at home.
“You’ve got to take advantage of the home games when you have them,” said forward Lance Bouma, whose Flames have played 11 games on the road this season, a figure second only to the San Jose Sharks. “We’ve done a good job on the road so far. We’ve just got to try to come in here tomorrow and have a big game.”
They can do so on a five-game homestand, just their second stint at Scotiabank Saddledome since opening up the season in Calgary with a one-off against the Vancouver Canucks. The Flames will host the Arizona Coyotes on Thursday before welcoming four other opponents into Calgary.
But Bouma is keeping things at a more manageable pace.
“It’s pretty easy for this one to break it down into a one-one-one,” he said. “We’ve got a day off between every one. We’ve got to make sure we focus on the one at hand and make sure we’re prepared for it.”
Preparation hasn’t been a problem thus far for the Flames.
Calgary currently sits second in the NHL with seven wins on the road. A 2-2-2 record on home ice also has the Flames third in the Pacific Division.
Maintaining, and improving, that standing is the motivation for coach Bob Hartley’s troops.
“Every game is huge,” Hartley said. “We have that big board in our gym with the standings and I told the players this morning, ‘That’s our motivation’. That’s the only thing we can focus on. We’re in the mix. That was our plan. We just have to take it one game at a time. I know it sounds cliché to you guys but there’s no magic formula. Everyone will be after us; we’re going to be after everyone. We’re in a real tough conference.
“Our guys deserve the credit. They’ve put us in this situation right now and it’s a good one. It’s up to us to keep going. There’s still so much hockey to be played but at the same time we’re in the situation that we can look ahead and it’s motivating.”
Sven Baertschi has plenty of motivation, too. The 22-year-old forward will return to the lineup after missing the finale of Calgary’s five-game road trip Monday against the Carolina Hurricanes with a virus.
“It was nothing really comfortable, I guess,” Baertschi said. “My hands and my feet were on fire. It was something that kind of came out of nowhere. For me, I’m glad it’s over.
“It’s always good when things like that are over. You’ve got your energy back and everything. You’ve got to find yourself again out there. I haven’t been skating in four days. You’ve just got to find yourself again but you’ve got to be glad it’s over.”
Baertschi had been recalled for the trip and played four games before being forced out of the lineup.
Frustrating, no doubt, for a recall trying to leave an impression on Hartley and the Flames management team.
“I wasn’t happy about that but in the end health is something that is really important,” he said. “Sometimes those things, they’re not under your control. Why waste your time being ticked at it.”
The virus, Baertschi described, wasn’t just limited to him, though.
Tyler Wotherspoon, his roommate in Adirondack, sensed Baertschi’s illness was on the way.
“It’s weird. I got a text the same day I started feeling weird from Tyler Wotherspoon, who’s in Glens Falls,” Baertschi said. “He asked me if I had something weird going and it was early in the morning, I woke up and sure enough I had it already. We shared the same thing because I’m staying with him. It got both of us.”
While Baertschi is back, there are still plenty of Flames on the mend. Both Mason Raymond and Joe Colborne skated before the Flames practice Wednesday, though neither joined the main group.
“We’re starting to see some guys back,” Hartley said. “This morning we had Raymond, we had Colborne and not Backlund. Those guys skated. They’re still far but at least when you see guys on the ice it’s always a positive.”
“No one is close,” Hartley added.
That is, outside of Michael Ferland.
Ferland skated with the main group and has been cleared to return to action. He’s not slated to play against the Coyotes, but Hartley will continue to monitor Ferland’s progress as improves his conditioning.
“Right now we’re getting him back in game shape,” Hartley said. “He didn’t skate for close to 10 days. That’s quite a bit. We’ll work with him. Medically, he’s been cleared.
“[Ferland] will probably need four, five, six games depending on how we judge his conditioning.”