This season, the Flames believe their early road trip can be an asset as they try to grow and build as a team

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By the beginning of November last year, the Calgary Flames just wanted to get out on the road.

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The NHL schedule-makers had served up a home-heavy start to their season, with eight of their first nine games being at the Saddledome. It’s great playing in front of your fans, but the group needed a change of scenery.

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That isn’t going to be a problem this year. After opening their regular season with a 5-3 win over the Winnipeg Jets on Wednesday in front of the Flames faithful at the Dome, the team flew east to Pittsburgh on Thursday for a five-game road trip that won’t see them return to Calgary until the early hours of October 23.

And they’re thrilled about it.

“It’s nice, we’ve been with our families for five months, a little too long,” Flames defenceman Nikita Zadorov said with a big laugh, clearly joking. “It’s nice to get together, especially at the start of the year. We have a couple new faces, get a couple dinners together and get to know each other. It brings guys together, obviously.”

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There’s no way of knowing how an early road-trip might impact the Flames in the standings. It’s hard to tie wins and losses to an intangible like guys getting to know each other better.

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But the Flames really do believe it matters.

Last year, they were trying to integrate some big new pieces into the lineup. Most notably Jonathan Huberdeau, MacKenzie Weegar and Nazem Kadri. At some point, building relationships and getting to know each other counts, and there’s no better way of doing that than getting out of town and spending time together.

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They didn’t have that chance right off the bat last year and felt it had an impact. This season, they believe their early road trip can be an asset as they try to grow and build as a team.

“The reality is when you’re on the road you fly with a group of guys, you’re on the plane, you get off the plane, you go to the hotel on a bus together,” said Flames head coach Ryan Huska. “You go to dinner together, you have pre-game skate together. Everything’s together. It gives people who don’t really know each other all that well yet an opportunity to maybe learn something about each individual on the team and helps strengthen the connection, for sure.”

Elias Lindholm, Andrew Mangiapane, Jonathan Huberdeau
Calgary Flames forward Elias Lindholm celebrates his game-winning goal against the Winnipeg Jets with Andrew Mangiapane and Jonathan Huberdeau at Scotiabank Saddledome in Calgary on Wednesday, Oct. 11, 2023. Photo by Darren Makowichuk /Postmedia

In addition to being an opportunity for some team bonding, the Flames should also have a chance to pick up a few wins over the next five games in the eastern U.S.

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The trip will see them take on the Pittsburgh Penguins, Washington Capitals, Buffalo Sabres, Columbus Blue Jackets and Detroit Red Wings.

There are some superstars on those teams and a couple young groups that would appear to be on the rise, but not a single one of them made the playoffs last season. There are winnable games, for sure, and nothing does more for the vibes around a team than a couple victories.

So the Flames could return to Calgary feeling pretty good about themselves and knowing a little more about one another.

“Obviously, last year was whatever it was,” said Flames centre Elias Lindholm. “We were kind of home for the whole month of October and now it’s one game and we’re gone. I think it’s good for the team to get together, have a few dinners and get to know each other better. There’s only good things, I think, from an earlier road trip.”


We’ve decided to start our own mailbag here in Calgary next week so our Flames reporters can respond directly to fans’ questions – whether serious or silly.

If there’s anything you’d like to have us tackle, shoot our team a note at and we’ll answer as many questions as possible every week. 

X: @DannyAustin_9

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