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Flames vets seeking strong start to pre-season

by Aaron Vickers @AAVickers /

CALGARY, AB -- There's no dipping a toe into the water to test out the temperature.

Dive in head first, suggested Calgary Flames captain Mark Giordano.  

"I don't think you can ease into it," said Giordano, who will take to Scotiabank Saddledome ice in the home side of a split-squad contest against the Edmonton Oilers on Monday (7:00 PM MT,

"That's when injuries and things like that happen. You have to go out and play like it's a regular season game … with that mindset and intensity. I just think that's when you get into trouble if you think you're going to ease into these games. There are guys battling around the league looking for jobs and fighting for position.

"You've got to be ready."

Troy Brouwer is.

Brouwer, signed to a four-year contract in July, is ready to get his feet wet with Calgary -- his fourth team over a nine-year, 613-game NHL career. 

Monday's game represents his first time tugging on a Flames jersey.

"It represents a new phase in my NHL career," Brouwer said. "To come in, to play on the home side of this building and with these fans, it's about meeting the new guys, to figure out exactly what routines guys have, where I'm going to fit in … little things.

"There's going to be some feeling out coming up here." 

Not so much on the ice.

But certainly off it.

Brouwer is still feeling out the dynamics in the room. 

"Like where you're going to walk in the lineup going on the ice … it all depends," he said. "Some guys are a little bit more superstitious than others. For me I'm not too superstitious. I'll let guys go where they need to go and do what they need to do and I'll just find some space here, because I'm the new guy."

New guy in tenure.

Veteran in experience. 

He knows what to expect in the first game of the exhibition schedule. 

And what he wants to take out of it. 

"Like any game, I want to make an impact on tonight's game," Brouwer said. "It's going to be my first game. I want to have a good showing for myself, and make me and my teammates and my linemates feel better after tonight's game and going forward through the rest of camp."

Calgary coach Glen Gulutzan is expecting much of that from Brouwer and his veteran core.

The group, Gulutzan suggested, should be plunging right in.

"There's no switch," said Gulutzan, hired this offseason to replace Bob Hartley.

"Training camps are short, now. You can't wade into them. You've got to get ready to play. The season comes quick. We need a quick start, so they have to get into game form right away." 

There's a challenge to it, though, the biggest being to ensure jumping right in doesn't come at the expense of Gulutzan's plan -- the focal point of three consecutive days of on-ice work leading into Monday's game.

Both effort and execution needs to be there.

"With a new system and new tendancies we're going to have to adjust and think a little bit," Giordano said. "We want it to get to where we aren't thinking … it's just natural. 

"There are different things we're going to be asked to do and different tendencies we're going to have to learn. We've already done that the first few days. Now we can finally get it into a game. That's going to be, for everyone, myself and all the players and the coaches too, to get on that same page as soon as we can."

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