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Bennett will play alongside Johnny and Mony in Game 5 on new-look top line

by GEORGE JOHNSON @GJohnsonFlames /

The outside temperature's rising to a more seasonal level. 

No more windshield-scraping or puffs of breath hanging suspended like snow-doilies in the air. 

Spring is most definitely upon us.

Nevertheless, Sam Bennett is being asked to take his own unique set of booster cables out of the trunk to help jump-start Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan.

"I can definitely use my speed, get in on the forecheck, use my body and create space for them," reckoned Bennett, who's been slotted in on the right side of the No.-1 line on the Flames' first evening of elimination reckoning, Game 5 versus the Colorado Avalanche.

"They're both great players, really skilled. I'm sure we're going to make plays and things are going to open up.

"I've got to play hard, win more battles, get them the puck and let them do what they do so well."

Bennett's fractious style has been deployed alongside the gold-dust twins before, of course, so no acclimatization period will be required.

"I'm not going to change a thing,'' said Bennett. "Just keep playing my game. Be physical, battling hard in the corners.

"That's my style. I just want to help those guys, and the team, in any way I can."


Video: "Everyone's gonna be focused, dialled in"


Calgary's big line has not been able to find its offensive footing in the series. Monahan has managed a couple of points (1G,1A) over four games, Gaudreau a solitary helper.  

For his part, Bennett admits to never trailing 3-1 in any series, at any level. But the task, he fully understands, is something akin to scaling Everest or K2. There's no earthly way to trek to the summit in one climb.

You take things one stop at a time as you move up the mountain.

"We're just concerned with this game,'' he reiterated. "That's it. Nothing else. We're not focused on anything but winning tonight."

Never shy about shaking things up a tad, head coach Bill Peters has hooked Bennett up with Monahan and Gaudreau for the 8 p.m. start, shifting their everyday right-winger Elias Lindholm to partner Mikael Backland and Matthew Tkachuk.








The change-up, the boss explained Saturday morning, is two-fold.

"It (also) gives Backs a guy who can help in certain situations, with Lindy down low against (Nathan) MacKinnon, if we elect to match them up, which is probably what we'll do."

Outside of goaltender Mike Smith, Bennett has arguably been the Flames' most impactful player so far.

"He brings juice, he brings energy, he makes plays and plays hard," critiqued Monahan. "He's a skilled guy.

"We've played with him before and it's fun. We're looking to get going tonight.

"At this point, there's some mix-ups here. We've got to find some energy right from the start."


Video: "We have to find some energy right from the start"


A fast start, using the emotion that'll surely be percolating inside the Scotiabank Saddledome, is the aim. A typically rollicking performance from No. 93, helping ignite his gifted linemates in re-finding their considerable mojo, would go a long ways in that.

"It's an elimination game,'' said Bennett. "It's do-or-die. We understand what's at stake. We're not going to change anything but we're definitely going to play with a lot more urgency.

"We know how important this is. We're going to be dialled in. We've been through a lot this year. This is the tightest hockey team I've played on. 

"Everyone knows the importance of sticking together and playing for each other. 

"We definitely don't want it to end too soon."

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