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SETTLING RIGHT IN

Coleman will play tonight against Jets, back on line with Tkachuk and Lindholm: "It's been fun to get to play with these guys and to get to know them."

by RYAN DITTRICK @ryandittrick / CalagryFlames.com

Twenty-three games. 

Twenty. 

Three. 

When you sit back and do the math, you really appreciate the toll that takes on the body.

That's 23 nights of intense, physical, blood-shedding battles - with travel - all for a chance at a swig from Lord Stanley's mug. 

Eight weeks of emotional highs in a marathon-style setup. Practice days, and more plane and bus than a John Candy classic. 

Surely, Blake Coleman has earned a few recovery days here in the preseason. 

"I trust the system and I think everything's for a reason," he said. "I have played a lot of hockey and it's only been a month-and-a-half or so since I was playing full, competitive playoff games. It was a really quick off-season, but I'm just focused on these next two games here to make sure I get myself up to speed and ready to go, because we have a tough road schedule to start and we've got to be ready from Day 1."

Coleman, of course, is a back-to-back Stanley Cup champion with the Tampa Bay Lightning, so the spring schedule has been rather busy in each of the past two years. In addition to the 23 spins he enjoyed last year, he played 25 on top of that when the Bolts earned the prize in the Edmonton bubble the year prior.

That's a lot.

Factor in the new contract, a move here to Calgary, new house, off-season training and everything in between - while squeezing his Day-With-The-Cup Party in around Labour Day …

There hasn't been a lot of downtime. 

Fortunately, it's been a seamless fit here in his new, Canadian home. 

Coleman will skate in his second preseason tilt tonight, flanking the right side with Elias Lindholm in the middle and Matthew Tkachuk on left wing. 

 

Video: "It'll be a good test"


    
The trio showed well in their first game, with Coleman picking up an assist in a 4-3 shootout loss to the Seattle Kraken on Sept. 29. 

He's looking to build on that tonight as the Flames face the high-powered Winnipeg Jets. 

"They've been great," Coleman said of his linemates. "Obviously, good to see them a little bit more now, practice with them. They've been great in games, too - seeing them with Johnny. They're gifted players, see the ice well, they compete. Good two-way guys, which is a big part of my game. I always enjoy playing with guys like that and anytime you have guys that can see the ice and make plays, that's what you're looking for. 

"It's going to be our second game together, so we'll see if we can get some chemistry going. It takes a little time to learn each other's game, so we know what to expect and where to be, but they're great players. 

"We'll figure it out. It's been fun to play with them."

Chemistry's a funny thing. 

Typically, it takes time to truly see the fruit of those bonds that we in the media wax on about, constantly. 

However, with Coleman, there's a uniqueness to his game that makes him the ultimate plug-and-play solution. 

He scores - a perennial 20-goal guy that contributes no matter where he lines up on the depth chart. 

He's a beast defensively - keeps the puck going in the right direction and is one of the elite penalty-killers in the game today. 

Most of all, he plays with an edge, and has the high, hockey IQ that should complement two of the Flames' most cerebral players in Tkachuk and Lindholm.

Truly, there is no ceiling to what this unit could achieve, should they remain together beyond the exhibition calendar. 

"As a team, we're spending a lot of time together," said Coleman, who had 14 goals (a 25-tuck pace) and 31 points last year, before adding another 11 points (3G, 8A) in the playoffs. "I've always found that the closest teams are the ones that win.

"It's been fun to get to play with these guys and to get to know them. As far line chemistry goes, that comes throughout the year. Doing video sessions as linemates and kind of understanding each other's strengths and weaknesses, that's something you build over time. 

"You look at some of the best lines in the NHL, they've been playing together for a long time. They've gotten better over time as well because they've gotten to know each others' tendencies and have an understanding of where they're going to be. 

"Hopefully we can build that quickly and usually if you're playing with the same linemates, things are going pretty well."

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