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Bennett back in lineup for Battle Of Alberta

The 20-year-old will centre Johnny Gaudreau and Alex Chiasson this evening

by George Johnson @GeorgejohnsonCH /

CALGARY - The sky, points out Mark Giordano, didn't fall. The end of the world as we now it, was not nigh.

No calamity or pestilence or drought involved here.

"We're making a huge deal of this,'' chided the Calgary Flames' captain. "But he's 20. He's going to go through more tough situations in his career, for sure, when things aren't going well.

"It happens.

"He's had a lot of success, got a lot of attention, in this league at a young age. And he probably hasn't been in this situation for a long while, if ever.

"There's so much attention on these guys now that when something like this does happen, a pretty normal thing actually, everybody can't stop talking about it."

After a thoroughly-dissected one-game enforced hiatus, Thursday against Nashville, Sam Bennett has officially been conscripted into the Battle this evening, 8 o'clock at the Scotiabank Saddledome.

"I don't need anyone to motivate me for tonight's game,'' said Bennett following Saturday's morning skate.

"I'm ready to go. Excited to get going."

Not that he plans on going off half-cocked.

"I still have a bunch of responsibilities defensively, playing centre, so I'm definitely going to be aware of that.

"But I've got to get into it physically, using my body and driving the net. That's when I'm playing my best."

Now that he's a greybeard but any means at 33, but remember the undrafted Giordano certainly wasn't hitting clean-up in the Flames' order as he began carving out an NHL career.

"The league has really changed over the last few years in that sense,'' he said. "The amount of young guys making an impact, expected to be be top players on their teams, is now a huge number.

"A lot of those young guys around the league are making it look a lot easier than it is, to be honest.

"It's not easy, believe me.

"I always felt when I was a healthy scratch when I was younger, it served me best to watch from up top. I know it's a bit of a cliche, but you do really see everything from up there. It's a good perspective."

Calgarian Chad Johnson - fresh off being first inductee on the Smith Group Brooks Bandits Wall of Fame marks his first Flames' appearance in goal against the traditional provincial rival.

"I know he had a little ceremony in Brooks last night,'' said coach Glen Gulutzan, "be he should be dialled in."

As for what to expect tonight, the boss predicted another tightly-contested, edgy, claustrophobic contest, reminiscent of the 2-1 Oilers' shootout victory at Rogers Arena a week ago.

"I hope it's the exact same(style of) game,'' Gulutzan said. "It wasn't what people expected, maybe - not real physical. Tonight might be more physical.

"But a real hard-fought, contested game, not a lot of room on the ice, and I expect the same thing tonight.

"There's a little hum in that locker room."

None moreso than in and around No. 93's stall.

When Bennett received word that he'd be sitting out on Thursday, Giordano, as good captains do, had a word with the surprised youngster.

The message?

"React the right way,'' Giordano. "And I think he's done that. Came out, worked hard.

"Again, he's 20. A young, young guy.

"Energy has got to be his focus tonight. Bring the energy. Not over-think things, not be hung up on where he has to be, what he has to do.

"Take all the thinking out of it. Sounds simple but just … play. We've all seen that he's pretty good at that.

"Knowing Benny, with the character he's got, he's going to come out out with a lot of emotion.

"That's what's going to get his game back on track."

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