SUN Hockey Pool

Chemistry project

RANDY SPORTAK -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:48 AM ET

Brad Stuart was guessing the answer was yes.

Robyn Regehr wasn't so sure.

The question: Was Stuart's Flames debut Sunday in Detroit the first time the two blueliners had been paired together?

After all, they were both key cogs in Canada's silver-medal winning 1999 World Juniors squad.

"I think I was with him," Stuart said after yesterday's workout session at the Saddledome.

"Gee, that was a long time ago. I'm not really sure but I think I did."

Either way, the pair find themselves together with the Flames -- at least for now.

Stuart's first game after the trade didn't go as planned -- a 7-4 thrashing at the hands of the Red Wings -- but it was the first step for both he and Regehr as they work to get their games back on track.

In some ways, this season has been very similar for both defencemen. Coming off the best offensive season of his career, Stuart struggled at the beginning of the campaign. Through the 18 games in the first two months, he collected only one goal and four assists. Part of that was due to reduced powerplay time.

Stuart found a groove for a spell but, admittedly, hasn't been at his best the last while amidst all the talk he was going to be dealt.

"The last few weeks have been a little tough for me," said Stuart, who heads into tonight's meeting against Atlanta with seven goals and 10 assists. "I struggled a bit with all the talk and being uncertain with what was going to happen but that's behind me now. I can just focus on playing."

Regehr, with one goal and 15 helpers, has also had an up-and-down season.

He refuses to pin his early-season struggles on having to adjust to life without long-time defence partner Jordan Leopold but admits he'd like to find his groove and steady partner.

"Sometimes things happen and with the injuries and people moving around, I think I've played with pretty much everyone. I think Gio (Mark Giordano) is the only guy I haven't played with some regularity," Regehr said.

"I think we need to really play well the first few games and get a good understanding of each other. It's all up to the coaches and what they feel is best for the team and what they want from a pair but I think we could be and should be very good together."

Even better for the Flames is that they'd only be one top tandem to throw out against the opposition, with Roman Hamrlik and Dion Phaneuf also capable of playing more than 25 minutes a game.

Regehr started the season paired with Phaneuf and then skated with Rhett Warrener, at least when he's been healthy.

Stuart, though, provides Regehr a partner with similar skating and playmaking skills Leopold possesses.

"He's a solid all-around defenceman," Regehr said. "I don't think there's any one point in his game that's weak.

"He's able to join the rush, has good mobility and a good shot. I'm gonna tell him to feel comfortable to go up the ice whenever he can and my responsibility will be to stay back and be physical.

"I think we can really complement each other. I see no reason it shouldn't work."

As for Stuart, he hopes this stop works out as well as the last time he was traded to Calgary. In junior, he was dealt to the Hitmen and went on to win a WHL title.

"That'd be nice," he said.


Videos

Photos