Calgary Flames enter ‘make-or-break’ stage of marathon road-trip

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WASHINGTON — For their prized commercial acquisitions, they make sure it’s a happy homecoming.

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With the team planning a feast for the American Thanksgiving, they wanted to celebrate a happy holiday.

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Now, as they wrap up their longest road-trip of the season with back-to-back matinees, the Calgary Flames are determined to create a happy ending.

The Flames have collected five of a possible eight points in this tough six-game outing so far. If they can increase that amount to eight or nine, it will be considered a very successful settlement.

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“I think it’s been a good trip so far…” Flames defenseman Mackenzie Wieger said. “But I don’t think it’s a great trip by any means.”

Not yet.

But it could be.

“Sure, if we win the next two games, it’ll be a great trip,” Weiger smiled. “Washington and Carolina are two tough teams, two playoff teams. It’s not going to be easy, but I think we have the group here to do it.

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Being in a postseason perch at Thanksgiving in the US is historically a good omen, and the Flames woke up Thursday with a 9-7-3 mark in the first wildcard slot in the NHL’s Western Conference.

As they hit the ice for a lively and up-tempo Turkey Day practice in DC, they were especially thankful for backup netminder Dan Vlader, who swiped a point in Wednesday’s 2-1 shootout loss with a 38-save show-off. Pittsburgh Penguins.

“Obviously, we want to have a better game in front of our goalie tomorrow,” said Flames forward Blake Coleman, who is looking ahead to a Black Friday showdown with Alex Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals (Noon MT, Sportsnet/Sportsnet 960 The Fan). ) “But on the road, sometimes you have to find a way to grease the points, and so far we’ve been able to do that a little bit.”

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The Flames opened their travels with a loss in Tampa but rallied for an emotional shootout win in Florida, making it a special affair for Weiger and Jonathan Huberdeau as they faced their old team for the first time.

They picked up two more points in Philly, then hit a single in the Steel City.

Washington and Carolina — the site of Saturday’s showdown with the Hurricanes — are the two remaining stops on this extended excursion that will eventually include 11 nights in hotel beds and 10,000 km in the air.

There have been many positives along the way.

“To a certain extent, I think we’ve settled into some lines that are workable and familiar,” said Coleman, who is skating with Mikael Backlund and Huberdeau. I think the stepping stones are in. It’s going in the right direction here and these next two games are going to make or break our road-trip.

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In fact, five out of a possible eight points is a good start.

However, five out of a dozen do not.

“We’re in a good spot to have a successful road-trip, but the last two games are going to be critical to making sure that happens,” stressed Flames defensive call-up Dennis Gilbert.

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“Play hard, play the right way and we should get the result we want,” added substitute captain Chris Tanev, who was no worse for wear after several gutsy blocks against the Penguins. “But that’s the mentality we have to have. We have to play like we did in the second and third halves (at Pittsburgh), where we pushed the game and were aggressive and we got on their players.

Although they appear to be trending upwards, Weiger believes they have more potential.

“I think we’re all waiting for something great to happen,” he said after Thursday’s practice at Washington’s Capital One Arena.

“We’re getting points, which is a big thing. But here, we all know the expectations are a bit high.

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