Mind over matters

RANDY SPORTAK, CALGARY SUN

, Last Updated: 9:01 AM ET

The words Kristian Huselius spoke were all the right ones.

The Calgary Flames' talented left winger -- mired in a month-long scoring slump -- spoke of digging deeper to find his form.

His body language, though, was of a frustrated skater who'd give anything for a boost of confidence.

Coming off a disappointing performance in the team's 4-1 loss to the Anaheim Ducks on Thursday, Huselius was one of several players trying to figure out what happened in a dismal November which saw the team win only four of 14 outings and fall to 10-13-3 heading into tonight's clash with the Columbus Blue Jackets.

It's just that Huselius and linemate Daymond Langkow have seen their personal fortunes fall the most from Halloween to today.

"I can play better," Huselius said yesterday. "It's crucial for the team and I have to make sure I play better and get things going. As a team, we have to be better and it starts as individuals."

The Anaheim clash was among the lowest for Huselius since coming to Calgary. According to the stats, he did nothing: No shots on goal, no points, no hits, giveaways or takeaways.

To top it off, he played less than 10 minutes and was virtually taken off the powerplay.

Asked about the winger after the game, head coach Mike Keenan sounded perplexed.

That makes it easy to believe Huselius -- who had a difficult relationship with Keenan when they were in Florida -- isn't seeing eye-to-eye with the coach, but he insisted that's not the case.

"It's not an issue with that for me," Huselius said. "Obviously I want to play more, I want to be out there, get back in my groove and make plays and help the team win.

"So I'm gonna step it up and be better and show him I want to play more."

Keenan said the biggest thing Huselius needs to do is believe in his offensive gifts.

"When it's there, he's a dangerous player, and he's gonna have to work on that part of his game. I'm sure he will," Keenan said.

On one hand, it's not hard to see why Huselius is struggling emotionally. After potting seven goals and five assists in a dozen October games, he netted only one goal and six helpers in November. (Langkow went from eight goals and 17 points in October to one goal and four points in November.)

However, it's surprising a person with so much skill can suffer so much self-doubt.

"I don't know what it is," Keenan said. "Even the best players, I've seen it. There was a stretch of over 20 games where (Mark) Messier didn't score a goal, but it didn't bother him -- and that's a difference -- because he could contribute to the team, and did, in many different ways. When Kristian doesn't score it bothers him, as opposed to just contributing. If you're contributing, then eventually a goal will come and you'll start going again.

"That's a difference."

Huselius isn't alone. We're talking about a Flames team that scored only 28 goals in its last 14 games.

Could it be a mental barrier has overwhelmed the whole team, save for Jarome Iginla?

"Maybe you can say it is," said left-winger Alex Tanguay. "Hockey's a mental game, you need to be confident, you need to know what you need to be doing, you need to have your mind at the right place at the right time to take advantage of the chances, and it seems right now we're rushing everything and forcing everything.

"We had a great shot totals but how many shots were really dangerous (Thursday) night? Not many."


Videos

Photos