Jonathan Huberdeau was benched for the Calgary Flames’ third period comeback over Nashville
Photo credit:Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports
By Ryan Pike29 days ago
On Tuesday night, an announced Saddledome crowd of 16,975 fans watched as the Calgary Flames scored three goals in the third period to defeat the visiting Nashville Predators by a 4-2 score.
They were joined by Flames forward Jonathan Huberdeau, 12 games into an eight-year, $84 million contract, in an unfamiliar position: parked on the bench as a spectator for the entire third period.
Huberdeau worked the gate on the far right side of the Flames bench – the side nearest to the offensive zone, where the forwards enter and exit – for the entirety of the third period. Following the game, Flames head coach Ryan Huska explained the rationale behind Huberdeau not being involved on the ice for the final frame.
“I thought Huby had an off night,” said Huska. “And when we went into the third period, we wanted to try to get a little bit more flow and we went with the guys we felt were going. And that’s pretty much all it came down to.”
Huberdeau and fourth-liners A.J. Greer and Walker Duehr all had zero shifts in the third period, as the Flames rolled three forward lines and three defensive pairings. They scored three goals and allowed none.
“He’s fine,” said Huska, when asked how Huberdeau took being benched. “It’s not anything anybody wants to go through, ever, but hey, at times it’s going to happen. You’re not going to have your A+ game every night. And as I said, we were trying to find a little bit of rhythm or flow to our game, and at that point we went with the guys we thought were going the best.”
Huberdeau played 14 shifts over the first two periods for 14:24 of ice time, playing with Elias Lindholm and Dillon Dube in the first period and Lindholm and Adam Ruzicka in the second period. He was credited with one missed shot and two giveaways. Natural Stat Trick credited him with one scoring chance at five-on-five, and the Flames out-shot Nashville 5-3 with him on the ice.
Through 12 games of the 2023-24 season, Huberdeau has two goals and three points at five-on-five, and two goals and six points overall. The coaching staff has struggled to find two consistently linemates for the winger this season, with Huberdeau playing primarily with Lindholm and a carousel of right-wingers throughout the first dozen games.
Flames forward Blake Coleman scored the game-winning goal in the third period. He noted Huberdeau’s involvement in the comeback, cheer-leading his teammates from the bench.
“I don’t know if the camera caught him, but we score the go-ahead goal, we get those blocks down the stretch, he’s celebrating, he’s excited for the team,” said Coleman. “Team guy through and through. It’s our job to lift each other up in times when it’s not going well, and we’re going to do that for him. And we know he’s going to be lifting us up as the year goes on here.”
Dube, a regular linemate of Huberdeau’s throughout his tenure in Calgary, commented on Huberdeau’s benching following the game.
“Huby’s the man, he’s good,” said Dube. “He’s the most positive guy I’ve been around. He’s a hell of a player. He’s a hell of a person. It’s fine. It’s one period out of his life, out of his career. It’s not a big deal. I don’t think anyone’s too worried about it. I don’t think we should be. He works his ass off every day. I’ll give him credit, he’ll be here tomorrow with a smile on his face.”
Asked if Huberdeau would be in the lineup for the next game, Huska replied “Oh yeah, of course.”
The Flames are back in action on Friday evening as they begin a three-game eastern road trip in Toronto against the Maple Leafs.
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