How fast does Calgary Flames winger Jonathan Huberdeau’s brain work?
It took milliseconds for him to collect a loose puck in the slot, spin and shoot it for his first game-winner with his new team. Yet he still somehow fit some time in to question the split-second decision.
“Even when I shot it, I was thinking pass,” Huberdeau told reporters at the Saddledome on Thursday. “Like, I don’t know what’s going on in my head. It was quick but it was still, I was like, ‘Ah, I should pass it.’
“But then I was like, ‘Hey, just shoot it.’ ”
Flames fans are glad he did. It gave the team a critical win over the Seattle Kraken, propelling them into the third slot in the Pacific Division standings.
But for a guy who’s determined to take advantage of his opportunities to score more often, Huberdeau admittedly still has some work to do.
“I think I have to see a psychologist or something for that,” he added, laughing. “I think that’s going to come, shooting more. But I think it’s been better in the past few games, and I have to build off that.”
Huberdeau took three shots on Wednesday. His goal was the second from almost the same spot right on the doorstep. The first was stopped by Kraken goalie Philipp Grubauer but Huberdeau regretted his placement of that one.
“I had to redeem myself after that,” he said. “I wouldn’t be happy if, let’s say, they scored after that. I think that was an easy one.
“Obviously, the confidence is not at the highest, so that’s probably why I didn’t score there. I mean, I had the whole net. I just had to lift it a little higher. But just to get it back, it was good and felt good.”
As he said, his confidence still isn’t back to where it was with the President’s Trophy winning Florida Panthers last season, during which he scored 30 goals and 115 points.
If the last month is any indication, though, Huberdeau is on track to getting back to the point-per-game threshold the rest of the way.
Combined with some improved 200-foot play, it’s a recipe for Calgary Flames success.
"I think I led the team last year in shots but I wasn't saying I'm going to shoot more,” Huberdeau said. “But I think when you get a lot of chances you are going to get some shots — that's what it was last year.
“Less chances a little bit here. I gotta obviously keep it more simple, get some more shots and the confidence will come, too."
With four goals and 16 points in the last 17 games, Huberdeau is slowly boosting his stats and his hubris. His first game-winner is just another milestone for the 29-year-old who will be in Calgary for another eight seasons with a cap hit of $10.5-million/per kicking in next year.
The Flames will need him to play with the confidence of an NHL elite to be as successful as they planned when bringing him over in the Matthew Tkachuk trade this summer and inking him to a franchise-record extension.
Wednesday’s finish was another step in the right direction for Jonathan Huberdeau.
“You always want to help your team to win, so that was good,” he said of his winner. “You feel better when you wake up the next day and you know you helped the team, and that’s what I wanted.”