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Chaisson looking forward to top line duties

Alex Chaisson will flank the right side with Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan tonight against the Hurricanes

by George Johnson @GeorgejohnsonCH /

CALGARY, AB -- The idea, Alex Chiasson explains, is to feel as comfortable in the woodwind section as the percussion.

Being able to shuffle into a seat in any area of the orchestra pit and not hit a sour note.

"I don't know what the plan is for tonight,'' shrugged the industrious right winger, "but I know for a fact those two guys are really dynamic, productive players.

"For me, in some of the games I've played before with top players, I've had a tendency to change my game and try to adapt to their level.

"That's not what I want to do. If you do that, you're in trouble.

"If I stick to my strengths, the things I do well, I'll be all right.

"Johnny's an all-star, if I can say that, and Mony's done some great things already in his career.

"Two elite players, for sure."

At 6-foot-4 and 208 pounds, Chiasson has been a nice addition to the Calgary Flames since coming over in late June from the Ottawa Senators in exchange for defenceman Patrick Sieloff.

During the third period of Tuesday's come-from-behind OT win, to hopefully create a spark, coach Glen Gulutzan played mix-n-match with his attacking trios, swapping Chiasson in the right side of the Johnny Gaudreau-Sean Monahan line in place of Kris Versteeg.

This going-upscale is nothing new to Chiasson, who took some spins alongside Jamie Benn and Tyler Sequin in Dallas, as well as Mika Zibanejad and Bobby Ryan and Mark Stone and Kyle Turris in Ottawa.

The boss liked what he saw of Chiasson in that spot.

"I think there's a few options there, in our lineup,'' said Gulutzan, following Thursday's morning skate, hours from puck-drop against the invading Carolina Hurricanes.

"For me, just looking at it, you don't know where chemistry's going to come from exactly.

Video: Chiasson on how his game has developed with Calgary

"Is it going to come in pairs? Trios? Where's it going to come from? But I think the one thing is hockey IQ and I think the other thing is someone who'll go to the net.

"That's my early interpretation of what would be a good compliment to that pair."

Operating on a checking line with the cantankerous Micheal Ferland and old pro Matt Stajan through the early stages here, Chaisson has drawn positive reviews. 

"Over the course of the first four regular season games he's been really solid for us,'' praised Gulutzan. "That line of him and Ferly and Staj has been real effective. Alex is in a spot where my familiarity with him helps, and we're getting his game back up in order.

"There's certainly signs of Alex the way he played with us a few years ago in Dallas. It's coming. You've just got to get those players in the right situations, the right frame of mind.

"New city, which he loves -- he came here early -- and he's getting settled. I like where's heading."

The familiarity between Gulutzan and Chiasson, forged during their days in Dallas together, has helped ease the transition and pump up the winger's confidence level.

 "Knowing there's a certain trust between myself and the coach obviously helps,'' acknowledged Chiasson. "And I think for me, I try not to worry about the outside of the game, the stuff I don't control.

"What I can control is the way I play. I prepare for that every day and I think I've done a good job of that so far

"I'll try to bring a little more every day. Obviously I think I can be an impact player in this league.

"But that's for me to show.

"Playing with Johnny and Mony would be a good opportunity. You want the chance to play with high-level players like that.

"But I also think our line, playing with Stajan and Ferland, we've been playing well. So I'm not taking anything away from those guys. We've been solid defensively and generate momentum for the team offensively, as well."

So woodwind seat or percussion matters not. Anywhere in the orchestra pit is fine.

"You should be able to adapt,'' reasoned Chiasson. 

"Wherever they put you, you should be able to fit in.

"Like I said before, the key for me is not to try and change my game, wherever I play, whoever I do play with. If you're given the opportunity to play with those guys" -- Monahan and Gaudreau -- "it's because you've done some good things.

"They're putting me in certain situations for a reason, because they like what I bring.

"So why should I try to be someone I'm not?"

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