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LAZAR GETS THE NOD

Winger draws into lineup for tilt against Jets

by GEORGE JOHNSON @GJohnsonFlames / calgaryflames.com

Curtis Lazar spent the afternoon straining at the leash.

"I am so ready to go,'' declared the ultra-positive, versatile forward. "I'm confident in my abilities. I'm excited about this opportunity.

"Game time can't arrive soon enough.

"I'm going to go out there and play my style: Hard on the forecheck, finishing my checks, creating energy, helping out where I can.

"You get into the lineup, you're determined to play so well that they can't take you out again.

"That's my mindset."

With freshly-signed Jaromir Jagr requiring a shade more time to work out the off-season kinks and build up game-tempo cardio, Lazar draws in this evening on the right side of the Flames' third line, alongside centre Sam Bennett and Kris Versteeg, to face the Winnipeg Jets (8 p.m., TV: Sportsnet One, Radio: Sportsnet 960 The FAN).

Finding it difficult to wedge his way into the lineup after being acquired March 1 from the Ottawa Senators, Lazar saw duty in only four regular-season and one playoff tilt during his brief stint as a Flame last season.

So the 22-year-old former first-round draft pick quite rightly viewed this year as a totally fresh beginning for him to find a foothold here. Struggling to find his rhythm in training camp, though, he then found himself a healthy scratch for the season-opener Wednesday at Edmonton.

"It was tough, watching,'' admitted Lazar. "But I didn't play to my capabilities in the pre-season. I know that. I often start slowly. I guess I'm someone that needs to build up a head of steam.

"But the last exhibition game (against Winnipeg), I felt good. Felt strong. Started to feel more like myself. That's something I'm determined to build on.

"You've just got to stay patient, stay positive and believe that your chance is coming.

"Mine's here."

The onus now being directly on him to take full advantage of an opportunity.

"I thought his last exhibition game he played well and just the way he's practiced … he's looked real fast, sharp,'' gauged Flames' coach Glen Gulutzan. "So yeah, it's a big game for him."

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