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Flames will need to get off to a quick start to be successful

Sep 29, 2011, 9:41 PM EDT

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Jarome Iginla AP

With the 2011-12 season rapidly approaching, the gang at PHT decided to take a look at all 30 NHL teams’ schedules. Each team’s highs and lows will be studied in detail to give you an idea of what the future might hold for each squad.

Note: Mileage figures via On the Forecheck’s “Super Schedule.”

Calgary Flames schedule analysis

Total mileage: 49,104 (seventh highest total in NHL and second most in the Northwest Division)

Back-to-back games: 10

Toughest stretches

Any team that is faced with over 49,000 miles on their schedule will have tough stretches to deal with throughout the season. But for the Flames, there’s no question that the span between December 13 and January 5 will be the stiffest of tests. Over the course of three weeks, the Flames will play 11 of 13 games away from the Saddledome. The span begins with a four game road trip that will take the Flames all the way to Florida. They return for a pair of games before they hit the road again for a season-long seven game road trip. The latter trip includes games against Vancouver, Nashville, and Washington—and comes to a conclusion against the defending Stanley Cup champs in Boston. Good luck with that.

Easiest periods

There are two stretches of games that the Flames will need to take advantage of if they want to secure one of the cherished playoffs spots at the end of the season. Starting in mid-October and spanning until November 1 is Calgary’s longest homestand of the season. The consecutive games feature a game against the Oilers, Rangers, Predators, Avalanche, Blues, and Canucks. If they can earn 10 out of 12 points during the homestand, it should help the team set the right tone for the season.

Later in the season, the Flames will enjoy a nine game span of games that feature seven at home. From February 21 to March 9, Calgary only plays two road games (against the Ducks and Coyotes). They’ll attempt to make the most of their homestand with winnable games against the Coyotes, Stars, Blues and Jets.

Overall outlook

In a division that is traditionally faced with tough travel schedules, the Flames have the second most miles to travel this year. On the positive side, the Flames are either home for multiple dates or on the road for a few games. It can kill a team to return home (or head out on the road) for a single game before returning.

Calgary absolutely has to take advantage of their season-long six game homestand at the beginning of the season. The old cliché is that every game counts—although it can be harder to bring the same intensity in October as in March. The Flames will need to bring their A-game and stockpile some points or they’ll be facing an uphill climb for the rest of the season.

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