Flames philosophy makes little sense

RANDY SPORTAK, CALGARY SUN

, Last Updated: 8:01 AM ET

Kristian Huselius has been pushed into the shadows during a forced disappearance.

That said, if the Calgary Flames expect to make any noise in the playoffs, provided they make it to the second season, the day will come they'll need the suddenly maligned left winger to come through in a big way.

For all of his flaws -- some real and some imagined by his detractors -- Huselius is still arguably the most gifted offensive player on Calgary's roster.

His passing skills are rivalled only by Alex Tanguay's, but he's much more willing to shoot the puck in scoring areas, so that makes Huselius very dangerous in the offensive zone, especially on the powerplay.

He's more than capable of scoring that big goal at the right time, which is a big deal come playoff time.

As for those who say he disappears when the games get more physical, they're dead wrong. During the first-round playoff loss to Anaheim two springs ago, he was among the team's best players, and certainly couldn't be solely blamed for that defeat. (Actually, he came within inches of winning the series, nailing the crossbar late in regulation in what was a tied sixth game that ended up being won by the Ducks in overtime.)

Sure, Huselius isn't known for being gritty or playing flawless defence, but he's not as soft or as much a defensive liability as he's been called. Plus, he has the added incentive of needing a new contract at season's end.

Huselius is still capable of being the game breaker every team needs at this time of year, and the Flames would be better off if they helped him rediscover his game.

FLAMES C-NOTES

Rhett Warrener returned to the ice Thursday for the first time since fracturing his ankle, but only to take part in the Flames' team picture and wearing one of Wayne Primeau's larger skates on his right foot. Warrener intends to begin skating in earnest today in the hopes of being able to play before the team's season ends ... Speaking of Primeau, did anybody catch Flames assistant coach Wayne Fleming refer to him as Keith Primeau the other night on the post-game radio?

LEAGUE WIDE

The talented Patrick Kane of the Chicago Blackhawks will probably end up winning the Calder Trophy as the NHL's rookie of the year, but it's a good bet Windy City teammate Jonathan Toews ends up the best player from this year's crop of freshmen, and it's a great group ... While Minnesota Wild defenceman Kurtis Foster was in hospital recovering from the broken leg he suffered during a game against the San Jose Sharks, the Sharks organization brought a computer and Slingbox so he could watch his team's games. By the way, according to Mike Russo of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Foster returned to the Twin Cities yesterday to continue his recovery ... Here's to hoping the Los Angeles Kings win the lottery and get to pick Steven Stamkos first overall in this year's draft. With all their offensive firepower and non-existent goaltending, the Kings could become one of the league's most exciting teams with all kinds of 6-5 games.

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