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Flames coach Sutter calls out Huberdeau: 'He has to speed his game up'

Jonathan Huberdeau is off to a slow start with the Flames. (Photo by Derek Leung/Getty Images)
Jonathan Huberdeau is off to a slow start with the Flames. (Photo by Derek Leung/Getty Images)

Jonathan Huberdeau's first campaign with the Calgary Flames isn't off to the strongest of starts.

Fresh off a blockbuster offseason trade from the Florida Panthers and an ensuing eight-year, $84 million contract extension with the Flames, the dynamic forward has only one goal and four assists in his first eight games in Calgary, with just one of those coming at even strength. That type of production is certainly not what the team was expecting after Huberdeau posted a career-high 115 points in a 2021-22 campaign that garnered Hart Trophy consideration.

In an effort to kickstart his new star's offence, Flames coach Darryl Sutter tinkered with his lines for Tuesday's game against the Seattle Kraken, splitting up Huberdeau and Elias Lindholm. While the Flames did score four goals in the contest, Huberdeau was held point-less for the third time in his past four games as Calgary suffered an eventual 5-4 loss.

Flames coach Darryl Sutter was critical of Huberdeau's play in his postgame press conference, imploring the 29-year-old to play with more pace.

"I think Jonathan has to speed his game up, that's for sure," Sutter told reporters.

At least Sutter wasn't talking about Huberdeau having to use the bathroom this time.

It would be unfair to pin the loss to the Kraken entirely on Huberdeau's shoulders and Sutter was also unimpressed with his fourth line's performance.

"The fourth line was on for two [goals] and took a penalty for another one, so they didn't hold up their end of the deal either," Sutter said.

Tuesday's defeat marked the second consecutive game in which the Flames squandered a third-period lead. The Kraken erupted for three goals in the final frame to steal the win days after Calgary blew a 2-1 advantage to the rival Edmonton Oilers.

"We're not happy," Flames veteran Tyler Toffoli said about coughing up another late lead. "We're an older group and we know good teams don't do that."

The Flames will look to get back to their winning ways on Thursday when they host the Nashville Predators.

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