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Jagr gets the nod against Kings

by TORIE PETERSON @ToriePeterson /

LOS ANGELES - It is official.

Jaromir Jagr will make his Flames debut this evening when Calgary takes on the LA Kings at 8:30 p.m. (TV: Sportsnet West; Radio: Sportsnet 960 The FAN).

Head coach Glen Gulutzan confirmed the veteran would be in the lineup following the team's morning skate at the Staples Center.

"Jags is playing tonight," he stated, noting that Jagr will be on a line with Sam Bennett and Kris Versteeg.

"He's practiced on that line, he's been here a week … there's no need to make it any bigger than it is. We've had those chats already, now they've just got to go out and play.

"Jags has been in all the meetings and knows the systems. Make sure he gets the right amount of minutes and see how it goes with the chemistry."

Video: Gulutzan talks about Jagr drawing into the lineup

Given how recently he joined the team, Jagr opted to spend the past week skating with his new club and making sure he's comfortable with his conditioning before getting into a game. He knows he won't be at his peak right off the hop but is optimistic about getting back up to game speed in short order.

"Of course it's been a long time since I played my last game so it's going to be different. But it's better to do it now than wait a little more.

"I care a lot so I just want to play the best I can play. I know it's not going to be very good (right away) but hopefully in (a few games), it's going to be better.

"I had some practices, just to get the feel of it with the new linemates. Games are kind of different. As soon as I can go to the games, it will be better I think.

"It might be different but I always want to perform on a high level. But it's not about me, it's about the team and my teammates. I want to help them. I don't want to be there just to be there. I want to make them better."

Video: Jagr talks about his upcoming debut Wednesday night

Gulutzan has appreciated the work Jagr has put in as he prepared for his debut, making note of how it has impacted the entire dressing room in the first week of the regular season.

"Real positive. He's a funny guy … he's been real positive. He's worked tremendously hard and just to see how hard he's worked in the last week has really impressed a lot of people. The amount of time he puts in on his game … he leaves a good impression on guys."

With Jagr in, Curtis Lazar will come out of the lineup. The 22-year-old has played in two games this season, picking up one assist. Making the choice to take him out of the lineup was challenging but Gulutzan sees having to make those decisions as a positive for the organization as a whole.

"They're all tough decisions," Gulutzan stated. "I thought he was fine on Monday. He had a really good game on Saturday. But they're all tough decisions.

"There's pressure from the bottom, our young guys in Stockton are producing. That's when you know that you've got a good organization. Any good club, any exclusive club, is hard to get into and hard to stay in. That's where we're at right now. It's competition in our locker room and from below. That's a good thing."

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