The owners may not be very happy that the Calgary Flames are returning to the Saddledome on Thursday for the first time in over a month.
But it is the players for sure.
For a team that has played 11 home games in the league, their first host concert in over a month since December 11 comes on Thursday, at a time when the club is seeking to build momentum as it can.
Their hope is a small dome cooking (a bad pun not served to an audience with a capacity of 50 percent) will add a sense of normality that this season is once again lacking.
“I just talked to Lindy (Elis Lindholm) after training – it feels like we haven’t played in a year,” said Blake Coleman, whose club has not played in five days and will have four more days off after Thursday’s visit. Ottawa.
“It feels like another version of the training camp.
“It will be nice to be home. It’s easier on the body, it’s more sleep, there are a lot of intangible things that go into the benefits of being at home for long stretches. It should certainly work in our favor.
“I expect we will gather around it and go on some good stretches here.”
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Easier said than done for a team that only has 4-3-4 at the Dome, where the Flames have not been able to establish their style of play as well as they have elsewhere.
Only one team in the loop – Arizona – has fewer home wins than the Flames, which is a bit unfair given how many Calgary games have been postponed due to the team’s pre-Christmas COVID stop and the restrictions on participation after the holidays, that will cost Canadian teams millions in lost revenue every game.
That said, the league cannot afford to postpone many more if it intends to finish the schedule close to the time of spring.
And so the Flames hope that 30 of their last 49 games will be at home will serve as an advantage.
“We have a big part of our schedule now at home, so it’s so important that we use it to our advantage,” said assistant coach Ryan Huska.
“You put the Saddle Dome into the equation – it’s one of the only character buildings still left.
“Throw the height into the equation and we can use this as a place where the teams will not come in and play against us. It is up to us now to take advantage of the first part of our schedule. It has left us in a position , where we have the opportunity to do some damage at home. ”
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For some reason, the tenacious advance check, relentless pressure and physical qualities that have been the hallmark of the team on the road have not yet been established as easily at the Dome.
They simply have not been able to get into any kind of groove at home as the schedule had the Flames basically playing one and two games at home before sending them on long trips where Calgary has played a league high 22 away matches.
The fact that the league is soon expected to announce the reorganization of matches to populate what would have been February’s Olympic break means the sporadic nature of the Flames board is changing.
And that means some long stretches at home.
“Now we’re getting very busy, and everyone knows that,” Huska said.
“Players love to play many games in a row, and if you can succeed in those races, you can make a lot of noise in a short amount of time.
“When players feel good about themselves and the team plays well, it’s good situations to be in, and we’ll find ourselves in that situation soon.”
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After Thursday, the Flames’ next game is Tuesday against the Florida Panthers, who are coming to town with Sam Bennett for the first time since being traded by the Flames last season.
While Bennett is sure to be the focal point for fans and the media, the team will see it as a chance to rebound after losing three in a row through Florida and Carolina on their last roadie.
“I think we as a team and individually took a step back the last couple of games,” said Sean Monahan, whose team has lost three in a row and seven of the last nine.
“The next two will be big matches for our group, and something we are really looking forward to.
“We have to use the energy from the crowd. We want to make it a difficult place to play. We have to do that as individuals. You have to know who you are matching and you have to be better than them.”