MONTREAL -- Kristian Huselius had a shadow in Sweden this summer.
A little extra motivation to stay in shape.
Since strength and conditioning coach Rich Hesketh can't be everywhere at once to hound his players, Huselius decided to work out with a personal trainer before his first full season with the Calgary Flames.
"We have this training program we got from Rich ... but you need somebody to push you a little harder sometimes because it's tough if you're all by yourself," Huselius said.
"When it gets tougher and tougher, it's good to have someone (say), 'Come on, let's (bleeping) go!' "
So, did it pay off?
"I feel really good," admitted Huselius, whose team faces the Montreal Canadiens tomorrow.
"I feel in good shape and that's gonna be a key during the season."
Huselius wasn't among the top three Flames in fitness testing -- take a bow Chuck Kobasew, Andrew Ference and Jarome Iginla -- but he took his training to a new level after joining Calgary in a trade from Florida last December.
"That was good for me," said the 6-ft. 1-in., 184-lb. Huselius.
As the Flames struggled to find an offensive touch early this season before breaking out with four goals in Toronto Saturday night, Huselius had been standing out as a creative dangler -- although he has just one assist to show for his efforts so far.
He grew up doing whatever he could to improve his stickhandling -- training with golf balls, tennis balls and oversized balls on all kinds of surfaces.
Teammates can't help but be in awe.
"He's extremely good with the puck. You always hear those little statements about stickhandling in a phone booth, he would be one of those guys," said Iginla.
Also known to customize his handle to tiny proportions, which now come direct from the factory to save him the trouble of shaving them down himself, Huselius is trying to become a more complete player.
"Try to really be responsible out there," he said.
"I have been killing some penalties this year as well. That's what I want to get better at and improve: My overall game."
Offensively, he was the most noticeable guy wearing red on the ice at Edmonton's Rexall Place in the season-opener and Huselius was moved to a line with Daymond Langkow and Iginla before the road trip. He didn't disappoint during the win in Ottawa last week, helping to set up Iginla's game-winner.
"It's all about getting the puck to the net," said Huselius.
"You can't just hang onto the puck too long. But you want to try to make some plays and open up guys in the offensive zone."
Head coach Jim Playfair knows the Swede will never be a hard-hitting player but Huselius can be an effective checker, too.
"For Kristian, it's different than being a physical guy. It's more of being an intense, smart player," Playfair said. "Right position, good stick, turning pucks over. We don't expect Kristian to run people into the end boards but we expect him to be a quick player.
"I think he had more jump in his step playing with Daymond and Jarome."