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Rinaldo and Davidson draw into lineup for Flames as team battles injuries

by GEORGE JOHNSON @GJohnsonFlames /

The jersey number, by the way, is 36. Not that anyone's going to require a program to identify Zac Rinaldo.

Just find the source of the trailing energy vapour; watch the human bumper car ping-ponging off any opposing bodies.

No initial tiptoeing or acclimatization or feeling-out period for Rinaldo, you can be sure.

The Zac Attack is always switched to ON.

"I play every shift," promises the 29-year-old winger, "as if it's my last. That's how I was brought up. It's just ingrained in my brain.

"Since I was eight years old. 


Video: "Flipped the centres ... see what it looks like"



"I think that's what's made me the person and player I am. I literally play every shift like it's my last.

"I'm just a motivated person. When I was in Stockton, same mindset.

"I'm just motivated to come to the rink. Staying true to myself."

Judging by the morning skate, Rinaldo will be operating on a line alongside Mark Jankowski and Michael Frolik this evening. At least off the top.

"He was good for us in pre-season, he's been good for them down there,'" says Flames coach Bill Peters. "They're playing well down there.

They've got four or five guys that are candidates to come up but we don't have room, obviously, right now.

"So we brought up one guy we think's going to give us some energy and play the right way. Lombo (Ryan Lomberg) is in that conversation and (Byron) Froese is playing really well.

"He'll be going. He'll be fine. Energy is not one of the things he lacks."


Video: "I literally play every shift like it's my last." 


With Tobias Reider dispatched to AHL Stockton and Sam Bennett and Travis Hamonic sidelined due to injury, Rinaldo and defenceman Brandon Davidson - both with NHL resumes - draw in for their regular-season debuts in Calgary silks.

Trying to end a three-game losing skid, Rinaldo's relentless heat-seeking-missile style might just be the ticket in helping the Flames snap out of their funk.

"Just chip in wherever I can,'' says Rinaldo of what's expected of him this evening.

"Establishing the forecheck is one of my main priorities. Getting pucks down low, sustaining offensive zone pressure and if we are in the D-zone getting the puck out as quick as possible.

"If this team sees (me) forechecking, banging bodies, trying to score, keeping it simple, doing the right thing and creating energy, I think it might open some guys eyes, say: 'S-, this guy's working his ass off for us so we gotta do the same for him.'

"I think that can spark something. A one-goal lead is two, three is four. It's contagious. Scoring and winning is contagious and it starts tonight."

His doesn't necessarily mean shucking the mitts.

"Fighting is part of the game,'' reasons Rinaldo. "Hitting's part of the game. I've never been one to, like: 'Hey, I need to fight tonight. I want to fight tonight.'

"That's never been me.

"It's part of the game so if I hit someone and they come after me I've got to protect myself.

"I don't want to come here and be all revved up at the morning skate and then crash come game time.

"I have to stay even-keel. I think that's what's going to make me a better player on the ice."




For Davidson, meanwhile, slipping on that Calgary jersey for at the first time in a regular-season tilt at the Scotiabank Saddledome will be a moment to remember.

"Pure excitement, pure adrenalin,'' says the Taber-born, Lethbridge-raised D-man.

"I just want to get out there and prove myself once again."

Davidson was recalled on Nov. 7 but didn't suit up for either of the short two-game weekend jaunt to Phoenix and Vegas.

"It's given me time to look over things kinda see the systematic side of things. Get familiar with those. It's been a pretty easy transition from the minors to here. Same game plan. Not a whole lot changes."


Video: "Good opportunity for me ... need to make most of it"


Naturally, he'll have support in the stands.

"My auntie, my dad's sister (Leslie Badura), and my uncle are going to be here. My auntie's got to be one of my biggest fans. She doesn't miss too many games, either watches them on TV or comes in whenever I'd play here.

"My grandpa (Alvin) just finished his last cancer chemo treatment and he's coming in with his fiancee, too.

"That's about it for tonight, actually.

"My family always comes in to support me. And, yes, this is special, being my first game playing for the team I grew up being up watching, being so close.

"Having them any of my family here to play gives me a lot of energy, a lot of joy.

"Makes me very proud to be able to represent the Davidson family."

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