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BLOG: Byron battling for permanent spot in Calgary's lineup

by Torie Peterson / Calgary Flames

CALGARY, AB -- With just three pre-season games left on the docket, players vying for a roster spot in Calgary have limited time to prove their worth and the competition can only be described as fierce.

Fresh-faced rookies are trying to jostle their way into the lineup and veterans are trying to ward off the youngsters from taking their spot. Players on try-out agreements are fighting for contracts.

Forward Paul Byron is in the middle. He has played in 81 NHL contests but has never suited up for more than 47 games in a single season.

"There is so much competition right now for jobs," Byron said. "Every opportunity you get, you've got to seize it.

"Hopefully I can keep going and keep getting better as the camp goes on."

When up against a younger, less experienced player, the diminutive winger may have the inside track on securing a spot but he isn't taking anything for granted.

The impression he made in the 2013-14 season, in which he posted 21 points in 47 outings in Calgary, will mean nothing if he's not on his game in every practice and pre-season appearance.

"Pressure is something that comes with the nature of the game. It's the NHL. Pressure is always going to be there. There are always guys willing to take your spot.

"It's something I've embraced the last few years and I look forward to the opportunity."

Thus far, Byron has dressed for three pre-season games and has acquitted himself nicely. Not only has been generating chances offensively, he has played with jam.

The 5-foot-7, 153-pound Byron isn't afraid to throw his weight around, finishing all of his checks and standing his ground in all three zones.

"We know about Pauly," Bob Hartley said after Byron's strong performance in Vancouver on Friday. "It's not about the size. It's about the effort every game. He uses his speed, works unbelievably hard in every aspect of the game.

"The good thing about Paul Byron is you always know what you're going to get."

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