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THE KID IS ALRIGHT

Mark Jankowski has settled in with the Flames and is pushing to get his offensive game going

by ARI YANOVER @NHLFlames / CalgaryFlames.com

Mark Jankowski is making the most of his time in the NHL.

The Flames' rookie has played in five games so far this season and while he hasn't scored yet, he's been getting closer and closer. His breakaway against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Thursday night his best chance so far and as his game grows, a more confident player is emerging.

"It's been good," Jankowski said of his continued time in the NHL. "I feel that in the games, every game I just feel more comfortable, starting to get more chances.

"So I think with the chances, the scoring will come, and I've just gotta stay positive and stay on it."

He has now been credited with shots in three straight games - the first shots of his NHL career. On top of that, his underlying numbers have been good: a 52.43% Corsi-for, according to Natural Stat Trick, indicating that Jankowski is helping his team play the puck more often in the offensive zone.

When he was called up from the Stockton Heat, Jankowski had scored five goals in six games. While his role is different with the Flames, coach Glen Gulutzan pointed to Jankowski's two-way play as being crucial for his success.

"The best thing is he hasn't made any mistakes," Gulutzan said, following Saturday morning's practice. "So he's been good defensively, he's been aware, he's been where he's supposed to be in spots on breakouts and on the defensive side, and that's where you build your game from. 

"Because let's be honest, the reality is you get confidence in your coach, and maybe offence isn't as high as it used to be, but you keep getting out on the ice and keep getting into good situations … Smart players, the offence will come. But he's starting on a good platform and I think he's going to start to generate more and more chances as he gets more and more comfortable in the league."

Jankowski has been playing on a line with Sam Bennett and Curtis Lazar, two other younger players working to break out.

"I think we've developed a little bit of chemistry in our time playing together here," Jankowski said. "It's been good playing with those guys. I feel like we've created some energy for the team when we go out there and we're all fast, we're hard on pucks, and we work their D. Like I said, we're starting to get some chances, too, so I think if we keep playing the way we're playing then the scoring will come."

Gulutzan has liked what he's seen out of his young trio.

"We have a veteran line there too, and there's a little internal competition to get on the ice more and it's good healthy stuff. Because those are really good young kids in our locker room, they're well-liked, and they're pushing. We all talk about that internal push, and they're pushing on some veteran guys who are good veteran leaders, and that's how you get your team to grow."

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