By Gary Pearson
Columbus, with a 5-1 drubbing, dealt Calgary their ninth consecutive road loss, handing the NHL’s second worst away record (3-9-2) to the beleaguered Flames, and with it, a VIP pass into one of hockey’s most dire orders.
Losses to Columbus, Nashville, Dallas, Anaheim, Colorado, Minnesota, Phoenix and back-t0-back defeats by Los Angeles have all but negated any Flames’ playoff aspirations. Calgary has offered little hope for Flames’ faithful, being outscored 38-15 during the franchise’s longest skid.
Outshooting their opponents in only two games, while allowing four goals or more in seven of nine encounters leaves a casual onlooker stammering in disbelief. Bleeding goals away from the friendly confines of Cow Town, however, is nothing foreign for Bob Hartley’s inherited squad, whose 52 road goals against secures a fourth-from-bottom league placement.
Only lowly Nashville trumps Calgary in the Western Conference, having allowed 57 away tallies. The aforementioned stat is somewhat misleading, though, as the Flames have played four less away games than their Music City counterparts.
Only the Colorado Avalanche, with two road victories, have amassed fewer road wins in the abbreviated 2012-13 campaign.
Even Calgary’s recent dominant home form – 6 wins on the skip – is not enough to offset the club’s abysmal away showings.
Unless Calgary strings together a Penguins-like winning streak (I’m not sure stranger things have happened) Mikka Kiprusoff and company will invariably find themselves with another extended offseason.
Many questions remain unanswered, two of which are bound to ignite heated debate in forthcoming weeks: What team, other than Calgary, will Jerome Iginla suit up for come deadline day? And, when will fickle Flames fans (you know who you are) fall off the chuckwagon and become disillusioned with their faltering franchise?