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Flames' Neal takes a seat for Game 5 as disastrous year continues

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CALGARY – The James Neal signing is now officially a bust.

The 31-year-old winger, who was brought in to be a difference-maker in the playoffs, will be replaced in the Calgary Flames‘ lineup for the biggest game of the season.

Coach Bill Peters confirmed Neal’s third-line spot for Game 5 on Friday will be filled by Austin Czarnik, who will play alongside Mark Jankowski and Michael Frolik.

From a $28.75-million signing on July 2 to a healthy scratch in one season.

Just four more years to go on a deal paying him $5.75 million a year.

The fact that he’s being replaced by a 26-year-old who will make his NHL playoff debut says plenty about how ineffective Neal has been these playoffs and this season.

Coming off a seven-goal season in which the perennial 20-goal scorer had just 19 points, the hope was that Neal might be able to salvage his season by coming alive in the playoffs.

He suggested as much.

However, following a few opening shifts in the series against the Colorado Avalanche when he threw his 212-pound........

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