Regehr, Phaneuf dynamic duo
CALGARY (CP) — The best scoring lines in the NHL have to run the gauntlet of Robyn Regehr and Dion Phaneuf to get to the Calgary Flames’s net.
Scott Niedermayer and Chris Pronger may occasionally see ice time together on Anaheim’s special teams, Philadelphia has Derian Hatcher and Mike Rathje, Toronto boasts Bryan McCabe and Tomas Kaberle, but Regehr and Phaneuf should emerge as one of the most intimidating defensive pairings in the league this season.
Regehr, a defensive stalwart who played for Canada in the Olympics and World Cup, was without a partner when the Flames traded Jordan Leopold to Colorado to get winger Alex Tanguay in the off-season.
Enter the iron-shouldered Phaneuf, who was a nominee for the NHL’s rookie award last season in the most deep and talented freshman class in years.
“We have some very high expectations of ourselves individually and as a pair to help this team win,” Regehr said.
“We’re going to be facing some high expectations from the coaching staff and fans and many other people as well. We’re looking forward to that.”
Phaneuf, Regehr and goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff are the cornerstones of a Flames’defence that was the stingiest in the NHL last season.
Phaneuf was paired with Roman Hamrlik in his rookie year, but Hamrlik also has a new partner in newly-acquired Andrei Zyuzin.
Regehr is 26, 6-foot-3 and 230 pounds. Phaneuf is 21, 6-foot-2 and 213 pounds. They have young legs that can chew up a lot of minutes while dominating in their own end.
Phaneuf has shown himself to be the complete package. His demonstrated his durability by averaging just under 22 minutes per game in all 82 last season, while contributing 20 goals and 29 assists to a struggling offence.
“He’s got a chance to be one of the five best defencemen in our league,” Hamrlik said.
Phaneuf will be the one to jump into the rush and be a scoring threat from the blue-line with his booming shot. Regehr is the policeman at the back and he’ll make the first man into the Flames’defensive zone pay.
Both players say their adjustment smooth.
“The biggest thing is us getting comfortable with each other, talking to each other, especially in the defensive zone where there’s a lot happening,” Regehr said.
“I talk quite a bit,” he added with a chuckle. “I don’t know whether he hears me or not.”