James Neal a healthy scratch ahead of elimination game

NHL Editor
Yahoo Canada Sports
Calgary Flames left wing James Neal is a healthy scratch ahead of Game 5.
Calgary Flames left wing James Neal is a healthy scratch ahead of Game 5.

365 days ago, James Neal was leading the cavalry for the Vegas Golden Knights on route to their historic Stanley Cup Finals appearance in their inaugural season. Today, he’s a postseason healthy scratch for the Calgary Flames in an elimination game.

This comes as no surprise considering his stats and lack of impact this series. Neal is -3 with 0 points, and his lack of defensive effort in game three - specifically on the game winning OT goal - could have been the breaking point for Coach Peters.

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Neal shows no urgency in this lallygag backcheck, allowing a cross-ice pass to the stick of Mikko Rantanen, who makes no mistake and seals the game. If you can’t find an extra gear in overtime, what are you doing?

Calgary picked up Neal this summer on a five-year, 28-million-dollar contact, making him one of the highest paid players on the Flames. He recorded his second worst statistical season in 12 years, tallying 19 points in 63 games.

As a veteran player, you’d assume Neal will be frustrated with his move up to the press box tonight. However, this move could be that spark that starts a fire for the Calgary Flames ahead of their must-win game.

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