CALGARY -- Tyson Barrie is getting some serious on-the-job training.
The 20-year-old Colorado Avalanche defenseman will suit up for just his eighth game of the season Friday night against the Calgary Flames in a do-or-die game that will either end or prolong the hopes of making the playoffs in a wild Western Conference race.
"It's pretty crazy," said Barrie, who is still searching for his first NHL point. "It's definitely exciting. I haven't played too many games, but I'm feeling more comfortable as we go. It's exciting stuff."
Avalanche coach Joe Sacco is hoping Barrie can provide some punch to an offense that has produced just eight goals in its last five games. Four of those contests have been losses. He's opted to insert Barrie to jump start production in place of Ryan Wilson.
"He's really played on his toes when he's been in our lineup," Sacco said. "He's been a difference-maker creating a lot of scoring chances for our team, and I'll expect the same thing here tonight. Just give us some good energy and help us offensively from the back end."
In his first professional season after spending four years with the Kelowna Rockets of the WHL, Barrie could be settling in when Colorado needs the rookie the most.
"It's cool, but I'm settling down a little bit," Barrie said. "I know the first few games I couldn't even stickhandle I was so nervous. Now I'm settling in and feel good.
"It is tough, but all the guys are good. They keep me loose in the room. My d-partner Shane O'Brien, he's real good at that stuff. He keeps me loose. He's a great guy and he makes it easy for me out there."
The confines of the Scotiabank Saddledome have been kind to Barrie. As a member of the Rockets, Barrie's work in Calgary's rink helped earn a WHL Championship.
"We played the Calgary Hitmen in the WHL final and we beat them," Barrie said. "I've played here a few times and I have some great memories in this barn."
Barrie is hoping to help the Avalanche build a few more.
Here's tonight's projected lineup:
Gabriel Landeskog - Ryan O'Reilly - Steve Downy
Jamie McGinn - Paul Stastny - David Jones
Peter Mueller - Matt Duchene - Mark Olver
Cody McLeod - Jay McClemment - Milan Hejduk
Matt Hunwick - Erik Johnson
Jan Hejda - Ryan O'Byrne
Shane O'Brien - Tyson Barrie