If there was a sense of relief when Jonathan Huberdeau scored the first goal of his debut season with the Calgary Flames, it might have been so he didn’t have to talk about it again.
But hockey players are a superstitious sort — so perhaps he’ll want to spend the morning of his next game talking about the need to shoot more again.
“Yeah, that’s nice. If you guys can keep talking about it, maybe I’ll score every game,” Huberdeau said after the 4-1 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins on Tuesday night.
“It feels good, obviously, to get that first one out of the way.”
From the top of the left circle, Huberdeau leaned into a perfectly-aimed wrister and found the top corner on goaltender Casey DeSmith three minutes into the second period. It gave the Flames their first three-goal lead and they didn’t look back.
Maybe Huberdeau won’t, either.
He’s not making any promises, though.
“Even if I tell myself (to shoot more), sometimes I still don’t,” he said. “That’s kind of an area of my game I’ve got to work on.”
Earlier in the day, the reigning NHL assist leader admitted he needed to be more selfish. There’s no doubt he’s hearing the same thing from the bench staff. Head coach Darryl Sutter encouraged former Calgary Flames setup wizard Johnny Gaudreau to adopt a shooter’s mentality, too.
“Personally, I have to shoot a little bit more,” Huberdeau said earlier in the day. “I try to make too many passes. But I think it’s just going to get there at some point.”
With three shots against the Penguins, Huberdeau nearly doubled his shot count for the season. He had just five through the first hanful of games.
Considering how nice his finish was from a fair distance on Tuesday, he should definitely mix it up a bit.
“I had a really nice screen in front,” he said of the goal. “I just had to pick that corner.”
The 29-year-old now has a goal and five points through the first half-dozen games in a Calgary Flames jersey.
He’s a little behind newcomer Nazem Kadri, who has points in all six games so far. But that didn’t prevent him from a little good-natured ribbing after the game. Or during it, depending on how serious you think Huberdeau was when asked what he said during a quick chat that flashed on the big screen after Kadri’s second goal of the night.
“I don’t remember what I said, but probably ‘nice shot, nice muffin,’” Huberdeau offered.
Kadri was given an opportunity to clap back.
“It kind of rolled up on me a little bit but I shot it where I wanted it to,” a Kadri said sheepishly of his snipe.
“Hey, you know, he’s good for a couple of muffins, too. Don’t let him fool you.”
Muffin’s still count.
And thanks in part to the Muffin Men, the Calgary Flames have won five of their first six games for the first time in franchise history.