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Diaz's display in Edmonton impresses coaches

by Torie Peterson / Calgary Flames

EDMONTON, AB -- While he may not have jumped out at you during the game, one look at a post-game stats sheet in Edmonton told the tale of Raphael Diaz's first pre-season game with the Calgary Flames.

23:27 minutes on the ice. 27 shifts. Five shots. Two shot attempts that were blocked. One takeaway. Four blocked shots.

In short, a solid outing for the defenceman gunning for a roster spot in Calgary.

"He played very good," Flames associate coach Jacques Cloutier surmised. "He was under control. He moved the puck extremely well.

"A very simple game, but very effective."

That simple style is exactly what Diaz was shooting for in the team's first pre-season tilt.

Looking to establish a steady presence on the back-end with partner Ladislav Smid, Diaz played with composure in his own in end while opening up offensive opportunities with deft passing and leaping into the play in the Oilers zone.

"I tried to play my game," he said. "I tried to help the team to win the game. I tried to create offensively, shot the puck on the net, create rebounds as well. Join the rush."

Diaz has spent the past four seasons in the NHL, playing for the Montreal Canadiens, Vancouver Canucks, and most recently, the New York Rangers.

He is attending the Flames training camp on a try-out agreement and knows that he will have to be at his absolute best for the duration of the pre-season if he wants to earn a contract.

"It's my fourth season now in the NHL and there is no gifts. You have to earn every single game, every single contract. It's about earning things in the NHL.

"It's something I've learned over the last couple of years."

The 28-year-old has 145 NHL games on his resume with six goals and 45 points to his name. He feels he still has room to grow offensively, something he is trying to showcase in camp and pre-season games.

"It's one thing I have to do better and better," he said, referring to putting shots on net. "I learned a lot last year and one of those is shooting the puck.

"Try to create rebounds and use the one-timers."

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