The Calgary Flames’ 2022–23 season is just days away from starting, and the team on the ice in the pre-season is starting to look more and more like what they will put out on opening night. The team will start the season against the Colorado Avalanche at home on October 13, and will play eight of their next nine at home at the Scotiabank Saddledome.
And while there is nothing like a game among the C of Red in the NHL’s oldest arena, indulging in a Pocket Dawg and perhaps a Dome beer or two, there is a special thrill in following the Flames out on the road for a few days and catching them in a different arena.
Like every regular season, the Flames will play 41 of their 82 games on the road, with some games making for better experiences than others. What makes a good road trip? Here’s what we think:
- Ideally a weekend road trip: Vacation days are precious, so getting away while taking as few days off as possible is the best possible way to do it.
- Warm weather is better than cold: Calgary is a lot of things, but the cold does get to you after a while. Getting away somewhere warm to catch a game is a nice break in the middle of winter.
- Optimizing the number of games to catch: The more games you can catch on the road the better.
- Being able to catch different sports games at the same time: Of course, it’s even better if you can make it into a full sports trip, and get a chance to see a football or basketball game.
Without further ado, here are the top Flames’ sports trips for 2022–23. We’ll start with the cuts and honourable mentions before getting into the road trips that promise great experiences.
Trips that didn’t make the cut
Toronto Maple Leafs and Montreal Canadiens (December 10-12, Saturday-Monday)
While it is always fun to catch a game at the Scotiabank Arena and Centre Bell, Eastern Canada in mid-December leaves a lot to be desired. While the Raptors do play the Houston Rockets at home on December 9, the drive from Toronto to Montreal is six hours each way without factoring for weather or traffic, making this trip particularly tough to execute.
Chicago Blackhawks and St. Louis Blues (January 8-10, Sunday-Tuesday)
As with Toronto and Montreal, Chicago and St. Louis in the middle of January is a dreary affair. The upside with this trip is the Chicago Bulls play the Utah Jazz on January 7 and the Chicago Bears play the Minnesota Viking on the 8. Ideally, if the Bears game is at 11 am, you could go straight from there to the United Centre for the Hawks game and have a full sports day.
However, the added 4:46 drive through the American Midwest is a less scenic country to travel than almost anywhere else.
Buffalo Sabres and Ottawa Senators (February 11-13, Saturday-Monday)
Again, as with the other two, the weather is a major factor in this one. Throw in having to see both the Sabres and Senators and having to drive between the two cities in the middle of February, and it’s mostly untenable. The only redeeming factor is that you can add a pitstop in Toronto on the 12th, and catch the Raptors against the Detroit Pistons at Scotiabank Arena.
New York Islanders, New Jersey Devils, and Boston Bruins (November 7, 8, 10, Monday-Thursday)
This one is sneakily exciting. Not only do you catch three Flames games in the span of four days, it’s also an opportunity to catch two other games as well. The New York Jets play the Buffalo Bills on November 6 and the New York Knicks play the Brooklyn Nets on November 9. All the New York/New Jersey arenas are within an hour of each other, with numerous train or driving options available to reach.
Then to get up to Boston is a five-hour drive or train from New York. Not too far away.
The downsides are twofold. First, the games span most of a week, meaning you’re taking at least four vacation days to do this. On top of that, Remembrance Day (Veteran’s Day in the States) is the 11th, and you end up taking the wrong side of the holiday weekend. However, with the number of sports on offer that week, it’s not the worst option out there.
Philadelphia Flyers and Pittsburgh Penguins (November 21-23, Monday-Wednesday)
This one works out just marginally better than the November in New York Trip. It only has two Flames games, but both should be fun games with Sidney Crosby in the one and
Johnny Gaudreau Gritty in the other. Add in the Pittsburgh Steelers taking on the Cincinnati Bengals on the 20th and the Philadelphia 76ers taking on the Brooklyn Nets on the 22nd.
Aside from the weather and the three workdays plus travel, the downside is the commute. You would need to fly into Pittsburgh for football on Sunday then drive to Philly for hockey on Monday. Then stay in Philly for basketball on Tuesday then drive back to Pittsburgh on Wednesday for hockey. 10 hours of driving is far less than ideal.
Of course, if it’s you and your mates on a sports roadtrip with good tunes and good company, this is a very manageable trip, but from a practical and gas price standpoint, there are better options out there.
Flames road trips that are worth your time
#5: Los Angeles Kings, Anaheim Ducks (March 20-21, Monday-Tuesday)
Coming in at number five is the Classic California road trip. Fly out on Friday, hit one of the Disney parks or the beach on Saturday, Sunday night the Los Angeles Lakers play the Orlando Magic at the Staples Center. Then the Flames play the Kings Monday and the Ducks Tuesday.
There are direct flights to and from LA which makes it even easier to get to and from this trip, plus you get to go someplace warm in the middle of winter. The driving distance between LA and Anaheim is minimal (traffic notwithstanding), and there is the option to go to Disneyland. The kids will love it!
The only downside is the two Flames games are on Monday and Tuesday nights, which means you pretty much have to take three vacation days minimum.
#4: Tampa Bay Lightning, Florida Panthers (Nov 17, 19, Thursday-Saturday)
There are far worse places to be than South Florida in mid-November. The Flames take on two teams that are expected to be among the best in the league this year, and it also is the first time that the Flames will face Matthew Tkachuk and Sam Bennett this season.
Throw in a basketball game on the 16th between the Orlando Magic and Minnesota Timberwolves and you have the makings of a great sports trip.
The downside is that you essentially have to fly in on Tuesday from Calgary if you want to catch all three games, meaning it’s four work days plus the weekend. As well, there aren’t as many sports that you can catch compared to other options. That said, it’s Miami, Orlando, and Tampa Bay, all cities with lots going on. Plus Disney World and all the associated parks are there, making for a very fun weekend regardless.
You could definitely do worse than this trip.
#3: San Jose Sharks (x2), Los Angeles Kings, and Anaheim Ducks (Dec 18-23) (Sunday-Friday)
This is the motherload of a sports weekend—or more correctly, a nearly a whole sports week. The good news is it’s the week right before Christmas so it may be slightly easier to sneak away when everyone else’s brain is also thinking about gifts under the tree.
Start the trip in San Jose with the Flames taking on the Sharks on December 18. However, the Flames do play San Jose two days later on the 20, so you could choose to either catch this game or head up to Oakland and catch the Raiders against the New England Patriots.
Then the next day, the 19, the Sacramento Kings take on the Charlotte Hornets in the evening, and this drive is just under two hours door-to-door. Then back to San Jose for game two against the Flames on the 20th.
The next day, December 21, is the big drive down to Los Angeles, which is five and a half hours down the highway or more if you want to drive down the coast along the more scenic route. If you’re feeling up for it, the Los Angeles Clippers take on the Charlotte Hornets that night.
The 22nd is a free day in L.A. to hit the beach or one of the Disney Parks before heading to the Flames and Kings at 7:00 pm local time.
Finally, it’s a quick hop down the highway to Anaheim to see the Flames and Ducks at the Honda Center. You could alternatively catch the Los Angeles Lakers against Charlotte that night in LA, but that’s up to you.
Up to four hockey games and at least six games in six days is a massive adventure. It’s definitely a jam-packed trip, but hey if you want to go all out, there is no better way to do it.
#2: Seattle Kraken (Jan 27, Friday)
This one is an off-the-board pick. It is just one hockey game, but it presents the best opportunity to get away to see a Flames game while missing the least amount of work. The highest reward weekend option.
Because of the availability of flights, leave work mid-afternoon on Friday to catch the game at 8:00 pm MST (7:00 pm local time). The Kraken seem to be a very winnable game for the Flames which is a nice bonus.
From there, take a trip down the coast to Portland Oregon to catch the Portland Trail Blazers take on Canada’s team the Toronto Raptors on Saturday night. This is a very manageable two-hour forty-minute drive, which gives you ample time to see Seattle in the morning and then head down to Portland in the evening.
The Sunday spend the day in Portland, drive back to Seattle, then fly home that evening in time for work the next morning. The best bang for your buck with reasonable flight costs and distances, two quality games, and better weather than Calgary.
#1: Washington Capitals and Carolina Hurricanes (Nov 25-26) (Friday-Saturday)
This one is a classic Flames road trip. It falls over a weekend in November in a warm(ish) part of the continent and is just over a four-hour drive between the two cities. Plus there is a football game between the Carolina Panthers and Denver Broncos in Charlotte on November 27 to cap off an excellent weekend on the road.
While it is a couple of flights to get from Calgary to DC, the city itself is excellent, with lots to check out for political buffs, foodies, sports fans, and more. Plus being able to see Alexander Ovechkin in Washington and a rooting against the Storm Surge in Raleigh would make for a great trip.
This is the only true weekend trip for the Flames this year and promises to be a good one.
Just can’t wait to get on the road again
Whether you end up finding your way to DC and Raleigh for a sports weekend, taking on the colossal California trip at Christmas, or someplace else, there is something special about catching the Flames out on the road. Whether it’s this year or next year, it is worth grabbing a few friends and taking an adventure to bring the magic of the C of Red to another city.