CALGARY, AB -- The Calgary Flames will soon find themselves embarking on the longest road trip of the season -- a seven-game, 14 -day affair that will take them through the Eastern Conference.
But first, the Anaheim Ducks to complete a four-game homestand.
And with the Ducks visiting Scotiabank Saddledome, there’s no concern from Flames coach Bob Hartley when it comes to looking too far down the road ahead.
“We’re not even going to approach this,” Hartley said following Thursday’s skate. “It’s the third game of our seven-game segment. That’s the easiest way that we can look at it. We know who we’re facing and at the same time, we have to basically win them all. That’s our situation. Lets not get too far ahead of ourselves and where we’re going to play in two weeks.
“Every day is a different challenge for us but at the same time it’s the same battles. LA keeps winning. Dallas, we have Minnesota, Winnipeg, it’s such a great race that it’s fun. For us, we’re playing games that mean something so lets jump in and see what happens.”
The Flames will tour through New York with three games in four nights before a bit of a break in Philadelphia. Three games in four nights in Boston, Detroit and Ottawa await Calgary on the other side of a date against the Flyers.
But it hasn’t crossed the mind of the Flames, yet.
“Our mindset has been pretty good with stuff like that,” captain Mark Giordano said. “You overlook Anaheim and it will be a big mistake. We’ll be aware that the team that’s coming in is a great team who’s lost a game and are pretty hungry.
“Anaheim, they lost their last one now so they’re going to be a hungry team. That’s the way we look at it. Hungry team who’s been in first place in our division for pretty much the whole year. You come in, you try to match up and play our game against them. They have a lot of skill over there.
“We need these two points before we go on our biggest road trip of the year. These two points would be a nice finish to the homestand and get out there on the road and we can really solidify ourselves out there.”
The Flames are a respectable 15-11-1 on the road this season, but just 8-12-2 overall against Eastern Conference opponents this season.
They’ll concern themselves with both records after Friday’s date with the Ducks.
“We’re not worried about the road trip right now,” forward Lance Bouma said. “We’re just focused on Anaheim right now. We’ve just got to take it one game at a time and just focus on the start of the next game.
“Every game is so important and everybody knows the standings. Guys are just focused on that next game and making sure we’re ready to go for that.”
The Flames will focus on continuing a red-hot penalty kill, too. Calgary has gone 10 straight games without allowing a power play goal against, a stretch of 19 opportunities for the opposition.
“Just the wave,” Hartley said. “I always say special teams come by waves. We didn’t change the players. We didn’t change the way that we work. We believe in what we’re doing. We believe in the guys that we have. Right now, our decisions are real good, our execution is real good. We’re coming up with some big kills.”
There has been a subtle adjustment, though, by the NHL’s second-least penalized team.
According to Bouma, the team is putting an emphasis on pressuring the opposition at every opportunity.
“I think lately we’ve been pressuring a lot more, killing plays quicker in the zone and up ice too we’re pressuring a lot more,” said Bouma, who leads all forwards with shorthanded ice time at 1:43 per game. “I think that helps. Our penalty kill wasn’t that great to start the season off and lately we’ve been doing a great job of shutting down other teams. We’ve got to keep doing that.”
Limiting that time and space is key, Giordano admitted.
“I think the number one thing about our kill is we want to pressure, give no time and space, and when we get an opportunity go the other way,” he said. “It’s been good lately. You’ve got to try to ride these things out as long as we can because special teams are weird like that. They tend to go up and down over the course of a year.”
With uncertainty surrounding a lower-body injury to forward Paul Byron, the Flames have recalled centre Markus Granlund and assigned winger David Wolf to Adirondack of the American Hockey League. The swap was simply due to positioning, Hartley declared.
“I like what Wolf brought us,” he said. “Right now we felt like we needed a centreman for certain responsibilities. That’s the reason why we sent back Wolf.”
Granlund has six goals and 12 points in 14 games with Adirondack this season. He’s also spent 33 games with Calgary, registering five goals and 13 points.
His value, though, transcends those totals.
“With [Granlund] it’s solid two-way play, especially defensively,” Hartley said. “I think that [Granlund] is very underrated on defensive jobs. He’s very smart. His hockey IQ is very good so that’s what we kind of like. Obviously come in and make a statement. This is the time of the year where we need everyone in the lineup to be at their best.”
NOTES: Hartley expects to use Granlund in the lineup tomorrow against Anaheim…Hiller is expected to start against his former club…Hartley didn’t have an immediate update on a timetable for Byron’s return.