The decision of where to go may not matter to country singer Jo Dee Messina. But if the Calgary Flames had a choice, I'm certain they'd put the coin back in their pocket and gladly head east to take their chances with the Carolina Hurricanes instead.
But alas, being the half-mountain/half-prairie town that we are, Calgary obviously finds itself residing in the Pacific Division and with that comes a couple mandatory trips each year to sunny California to visit NHL heavyweights: Anaheim Ducks, San Jose Sharks and Los Angeles Kings.
All three have become harrowing buildings for NHL teams to visit but in particular, the Flames have a haunted history at the Honda Center in Anaheim that would make the house in Amityville Horror look like a McDonald's Playland.
The Skinny on 'The Streak'
There are several different ways to represent how bad Calgary's fortunes have been in Anaheim and you'll hear them all in the next 36 hours. However you choose to dissect it, the losing woes go back to when they weren't just Ducks, they were Mighty Ducks.
- "18 losses in a row" - It's cold, it's harsh, but it's accurate. Since Calgary last won a regular season game in Anaheim over 10 years ago -- a 5-1 victory on Jan. 19, 2004, Anaheim has won 18 straight home games versus the Flames so that can only mean Calgary has lost 18 straight on the road.
- "Winless in their last 18 (0-13-5)" - This is the politically correct way to say it. "Winless" confirms the Flames didn't win but in the misleading world that is the glass-half-full skewed NHL standings, losses in overtime or a shootout aren't treated the same as other losses and get their very own column.
- "One win in their last 28 (1-17-10)" - This extends Calgary's stretch of futility in Anaheim back to last century. Beginning with Anaheim's 5-1 win on Mar. 28, 1999, the Ducks have lost just once to the Flames in the last 28 regular season games on home ice. This stretch, which dates back further than the arrival of the shootout, includes three ties, four overtime losses and three shootout losses.
- 17 losses in a row
- Two wins in their last 31
Not as Bad as it Seems
No wins in 18, one in in 28. It sure sounds pretty horrifying. It gives you the sense it's been complete domination by the Ducks but if you scratch below the surface, you'll see that the games have been a lot closer than you think.
Here are some interesting facts about the streak (regular season version only):
- Eight of the last 10 visits have either ended in a shootout (3), overtime (2) or been one-goal games (3)
- In six of the last nine games, Calgary has outshot the Ducks including a 35-22 edge in the first meeting in October last year, which ended up a 3-2 loss
- Eight of the 17 losses during the 1-17-10 stretch have been by one goal
Over the duration of the streak, here are five of the most notable losses:
- Mar. 2, 2012 - Leland Irving made 35 saves but he couldn't stop Ryan Getzlaf, who scores on a set-up from Corey Perry with 46 seconds left in the game to win it 3-2.
- Feb. 6, 2012 - The 3-2 loss was decided in a shootout that lasted eight rounds. Perry and Olli Jokinen were the lone goal scorers after three shooters. Then Getzlaf and Jarome Iginla both missed. Then Bobby Ryan and Blair Jones both scored. Shooting seventh, Cam Fowler and TJ Brodie both were unsuccessful. As shooter No. 8, Niklas Hagman beat Miikka Kiprusoff to put the pressure on Calgary and Mikael Backlund was stopped by Jonas Hiller to finish it.
- Mar. 20, 2011 - Flames led 4-3 late in the game but with Rene Bourque in the penalty box for interference, Teemu Selanne's power play goal tied it at 17:59 and Perry scored in overtime to give Anaheim a 5-4 win.
- Jan. 17, 2010 - Calgary took a 4-3 lead to the third period but unanswered goals by Perry and Ryan on Curtis McElhinney gave the Ducks a 5-4 victory, despite being outshot 37-26.
- Apr. 4, 2004 - In the game that started this 18-game funk, Calgary led 1-0 into the third but ended up falling 2-1 when Martin Skoula and Sergei Fedorov scored less than two minutes apart halfway through the final period.
Funk Fun Facts
- 107 players have been a part of the current 18-game losing streak for Calgary. This includes assistant GM Craig Conroy (7 games) and assistant coach Martin Gelinas (1). Other blasts from the past include Denis Gauthier (1), Rhett Warrener (2), Bryan Marchment (2), Chris Simon (2) and Jason Wiemer (1).
- 11 goaltenders have appeared over these last 18 games -- Reto Berra, Brian Boucher, Irving, Curtis Joseph, Henrik Karlsson, Kiprusoff, Joey MacDonald, McElhinney, Jamie McLennan, Karri Ramo and Roman Turek.
- That one regular season win this century (Jan. 19, 2004) came with Iginla (ankle) and Kiprusoff (knee) both injured. The makeshift line-up that night included Lynn Loyns, Josh Green and Krzysztof Oliwa. The winning goalie was Turek (36 saves) and the goal scorers were Chris Clark, Gelinas, Green, Toni Lydman and Oleg Saprykin.
- The losing streak has all come in the same building. It was originally called the Arrowhead Pond and became the Honda Center beginning in 2006-07.
- It was in that same 2006-07 season that they became the Anaheim Ducks after being known previously as the somewhat ridiculous Mighty Ducks of Anaheim.
- In that 5-2 playoff win in 2006, Kiprusoff was the winning goalie (27 saves). Scoring for Calgary was Kristian Huselius, Chuck Kobasew, Daymond Langkow, Darren McCarty and Robyn Regehr.
Flames Current Roster - Baggage or No Baggage
Baggage - Games (losses) in Anaheim as a member of the Flames:
- 12 - Mark Giordano
- 9 - Curtis Glencross
- 5 - Brian McGrattan, Lance Bouma, Matt Stajan, Backlund, Brodie
- 3 - Jiri Hudler
- 2 - Dennis Wideman, Joe Colborne, Kris Russell, Sven Baertschi
- 1 - Sean Monahan, Ramo, Ladislav Smid, David Jones
No Baggage - Has never played a game in Anaheim
- Paul Byron
- Michael Ferland
- Johnny Gaudreau
- Markus Granlund
- Josh Jooris
- Corban Knight
Bringing that Winning Feeling
While there is nobody still with the Flames from that 2006 playoffs team (or the 2003-04 regular season), there are a few players that have at least tasted victory in Anaheim in their previous stops.
Jonas Hiller leads the way, obviously. The Former Ducks goaltender has a 92-51-10 regular season record at the Honda Center with a 2.48 goals-against average, .919 save percentage and 14 shutouts. Seems like sound strategy to me to roll with him in net on Tuesday as coach Bob Hartley already declared would happen this past weekend.
The most successful skater has been Devin Setoguchi, who has won eight times in Anaheim in 15 career games. He also has scored two goals and had three assists in that span so if you're superstitious, maybe he gets another look on Tuesday? Setoguchi is in a gawdawful slump with no points in 12 games this year. Dating back to last year with Winnipeg, Setoguchi has zero goals and one assist in his last 26 games and is minus-15 during that span.
Other players that have won in Anaheim with their previous teams:
- 4 wins - Hudler, Russell
- 3 wins - Smid
- 1 win - Deryk Engelland (in which he scored a goal), Brandon Bollig, Wideman, McGrattan, Jones
Exorcising the Ghosts of Seasons Past
Calgary is playing like a brand new team this year. This is a fearless, invigorated group, who are achieving things no one thought possible and are either beating or giving tough teams a real stiff test. In particular, the Flames are getting significant contributions from the likes of Honda Center virgins Byron, Gaudreau, Granlund and Jooris. As for Monahan, he has only lost in that building once and that game last October Calgary deserved to win only for MacDonald to be out-goaltended by Viktor Fasth.
Add in Hiller's familiarity of winning in Anaheim, Calgary's big 4-3 shootout victory over the Ducks last week and perhaps this is the year, finally, and maybe Tuesday is the game that turns this whole thing around.
It would be a good time to shed this mental baggage with the Flames likely to play a lot of meaningful games with their division-rival in the coming years, maybe even another spring best-of-seven match-up at some point.
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