There are thirty teams in the National Hockey League (NHL), four divisions and two conferences. Each conference is home to two divisions. The Calgary Flames, a team located in western Canada, play in the Pacific Division of the Western Conference.
The division, which has seven teams (five of which posted winning records last season) is highly competitive. Last year, the Anaheim Ducks won divisional honors while the Flames finished in third place, several games above .500.
This squad wants to improve in the upcoming season and there is every reason to believe it will do just that. Professional hockey is all about attrition over a long season and the length and difficulty of road trips.
What it all means is that the teams which suffer fewer injuries, especially to star players, have a better chance at being successful. Additionally, if the six month schedule features road trips of manageable distance and time spent on the road (actually, in the air and in hotels), the chance of finishing strong increases.
Calgary, as is the case for the other six teams in its division, will play five games against each squad, two or three at home and the remainder on the road. Those games are all important. Five games played against six divisional foes amounts to a total of thirty games over the course of the season. That number is equal to nearly forty percent of the entire schedule. All other games (there are fifty more) are played against teams from the other three divisions.
The Flames will get a long East Coast road trip out of the way early in 2015 when they visit the New York Rangers, the New York Islanders and the Ottawa Senators over a period of five days from October 25th through October 29th.
The “road to victory” gets tougher in November when this western Canadian team plays eight of twelve games away from home. Included in the “away games” is a four game road trip to the home of the Florida Panthers, to Tampa Bay, to Washington and to Chicago for an on-ice battle with the Blackhawks.
In December, the Calgary Flames will find themselves on the road once again for four tough games against the Nashville Predators, the Dallas Stars, the rugged St. Louis Blues and the always-difficult-to-beat Detroit Redwings.
One more very challenging trip awaits this team in January. It will last ten days and take this squad to five cities, including stops in Edmonton, New Jersey, Columbus, Dallas and North Carolina.
It won’t be easy, but it should go a long way in determining the playoff fate of the team from the “cowboy city.”
With more home games than road trips in March and April, the chances seem good that the Flames and their fans will have lots to look forward to when the postseason arrives.