It’s been a hellish strip of overheated blacktop they’ve been travelling, running from the Arizona desert to St. Paul, Minn., from the majesty of the Rocky Mtns of Denver to the gently swaying palms and low-slung strip malls of a place fashioned out of a theme park bossed by a mouse. From the claustrophobic, criss-crossing freeways of downtown L.A. to the inviting, expansive skies of Texas.

The road to ruin.

A Jack Kerouac novel gone to seed.

“Seems like on the road,” sighed goaltender Joey MacDonald, “we start slow. Takes time to get going. At home we have the energy. I don’t know if it’s the energy of having the crowd behind us or what. But we start good. In the last L.A. game, first period we get down a couple and you can’t do that against any team in this league.

“You get down two or three and it’s tough to battle back. We do a great job battling back, but it’s just too hard on everybody. Everybody’s giving more than what they can and by the end of it . . .” The sentence faded away into nothingness, like so many vital road points.

“We’ve got to find a way to come out harder. You’ve got to come out ready to go.”

You’d like to think, given the stakes, that’d be a given.

Yet as the Calgary Flames endeavour to sort out their problems on the road, with second-time daddy Miikka Kiprusoff returned to the flock (and Danny Taylor summarily dispatched to Abbotsford), the self-inflicted damage is all too obvious.

We’re talking more than a month with nary a single victory outside the 403 area code. Not one. Seven games (0-6-1).

It’s killing them as sure as slowly, as insidiously, as a single spoonful of arsenic in the daily morning coffee.