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The Calgary Flames were late flying out of the Calgary International Airport and, before they were able to touch down safely, their plane was forced to circle the air for an hour or two.

When they landed at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport, they were stuck on the tarmac for a lengthy stretch which, rather inconveniently, pushed back their bedtime.

After dropping off the players and coaching staff, the team’s charter plane actually took off again and landed at Chicago’s Midway International Airport before they were able to unload. Major stick taps were tossed out to head equipment manager Mark DePasquale, assistant equipment manager Corey Osmak, dressing room assistant Ben Dumaine, director of team operations Sean O’Brien, strength and conditioning coach Ryan Van Asten who, among others, were in charge of loading the gear and transporting it to United Center.

“The junior guys were bugging the college guys and saying that, in junior, we’d play now,” said Flames head coach Glen Gulutzan with a chuckle. “It was good it was painless. by the time (the equipment guys) got the luggage and the gear and everything they did a great job. The players were sheltered for a lot of that.

(The Flames video below shows a typical day on the road for the equipment staff.)

“We’re at the point of the season where it’s time to be tough and you can’t orchestrate what happens to you. You can only deal with how you react to what happens you and we’ll react the right way.”

Frankly, they must.

At 26 18 8 and sitting on the outside looking in with 60 points, a point behind the Minnesota Wild (28 19 5) for the final Wild Card spot in the Western Conference, the start of this six game sojourn is crucial; especially against the Blackhawks (24 20 8) who are in dire need of gaining points.

The Flames snapped a six game losing skid with Saturday’s 4 3 overtime win over Chicago at the Scotiabank Saddledome, making Tuesday’s scouting report a little easier.

“There’s a little buzz in the room,” Gulutzan said. “They’re excited. For me, and for a lot of the players, this is an exciting building to play in and an exciting team to play.

“There’s some buzz. They’re excited. I don’t think there’s any thought of the travel.”

Sean Monahan netted Saturday’s game winner 59 seconds into the extra frame which gave him seven goals against the Blackhawks in his career.

In net, Mike Smith (21 15 6, 2.52 goals against average, .922 save percentage) squares off with Chicago netminder Jeff Glass (3 3 3, 3.24 GAA, .908 save %).

Following Tuesday’s clash, the Flames have five more stops versus New Jersey (Thursday), New York (Friday), New York Islanders (Sunday), Boston (Feb. 13), and Nashville (Feb. 15).

“Our focus has been on us,” Gulutzan said. “But make no mistake, we know who we’re playing. These guys have won a lot. We’re just worried about us. MT, United Center, TV: CBC, Sportsnet West, Radio: Sportsnet 960 The Fan

Jonathan Toews hasn’t had a goal in 10 games.


Flames C Sean Monahan vs. Blackhawks C Jonathan Toews

Captain Serious vs. A Future Captain Who Is Also Serious. The two share similar qualities, one of which is their focused and determined nature. Monahan game winner in Saturday 4 3 overtime win at the Scotiabank Saddledome was his 10th career overtime clincher as he delivered a game high eight shots on net. The 23 year old who could, potentially, take over for Mark Giordano and wear the in the future, has 24 goals and 21 assists in 51 games this season. Toews, on the other hand, is due. He goal less in 10 games and only has two assists during that span but, still, the 29 year old is one of the best in the NHL in the face off circle.


1. ROAD TRIPPIN Flames hit the road for a six game roadie with stops in Chicago, New Jersey, New York, Brooklyn, Boston and Nashville. It one heckuva trip and difficult territory, to boot. But they can afford to slip now. After snapping a six game losing skid, the Flames are 26 18 8 and sitting on the outside looking in (heading into Monday action, they were one point behind the Minnesota Wild for the final Wild Card spot). The positive angle? They 13 5 5 away from the Scotiabank Saddledome.


Between Jim Cornelison, the anthem singer with the impressive pipes, the intense fanbase, and the Blackhawks infamous goal scoring anthem, Dagger, you be hard pressed to find a better atmosphere than Chicago United Center. Flames head coach Glen Gulutzan would have to agree: think it the best road arena that we play in, he said after Monday skate. exciting. There electricity in there. You get up to play there. They a great team, great history, and the anthem is second to none You get all that energy. It the only building, honestly, over my years in the NHL, have watched the scratches sneak out into the (tunnel) close to the bench so that they can listen to the anthem. That pretty special.

Matthew Tkachuk tries for a deflection in front of Corey Crawford during a game at the United Center last season.
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