Born-again Kristian

RANDY SPORTAK -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 10:18 AM ET

During the two years Wayne Fleming served as an assistant coach in Philadelphia, he viewed Kristian Huselius much the same as did the rest of the hockey world.

The skilled Huselius was an enigma, possessing incredible talent but not putting it on display often enough.

Having spent half a season watching Huselius all the closer as assistant coach for the Calgary Flames, Fleming has a different view of Huselius.

"He's a better two-way player than I realized," Fleming explained. "He's also a very astute and analytical player, offensively and defensively. He's always two plays ahead. When he's playing defensively, he's thinking from an offensive standpoint: 'Here's what I would do and here's how I'm gonna take it away.' "

Huselius will face his former team for the first time when the Flames play host to the Florida Panthers tonight at the Saddledome. He might be Calgary's hottest player, which begs the question: How has he changed in the 13 months since coming to the Stampede City?

"It's probably easier for you to say than me," said Huselius, fourth on the Flames with 30 points (15-15-30). "I don't think of it that much, just trying to get better in all areas and with my overall game."

Huselius, acquired via trade in exchange for defenceman Steve Montador and prospect Dustin Johner on Dec. 2, 2005, a week after going through waivers unclaimed, came to the Flames known for his offensive abilities but not much else. That offence has shown all season, on pace for a career season of 30 goals and 60 points.

Considered soft and inconsistent, he was also thought of as a defensive liability. But Huselius has become more Flames-like than anyone could have expected.

ICE CHIPS: Last month's postponed game in Colorado has been rescheduled for April 8 ... Alex Tanguay was again put on a line with Jarome Iginla and Daymond Langkow yesterday, putting Kristian Huselius with Matthew Lombardi and Tony Amonte. Chuck Kobasew was moved onto the third line with Stephane Yelle and Jeff Friesen.


Videos

Photos