SUN Hockey Pool

Stuart settling in

RANDY SPORTAK -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:52 AM ET

GLENDALE -- Robyn Regehr knows expectations are high over his newest defence partner but he's preaching patience.

Well aware there are many Calgary Flames fans -- and members of the media -- who fully expected Brad Stuart to step in and be a dominant defenceman right away, Regehr firmly believes it won't be long before his newest teammate hits his stride.

"It's big picture with him," said Regehr.

"There was a lot going on in Boston, not knowing what was going to happen.

"With a new team, everything's new, the dressing room and on the ice.

"There's a lot for him to get used to. I've played with him a few games and his game is getting better and it will continue as he gets more comfortable."

Stuart was the centrepiece of the trade with the Bruins nearly two weeks ago and arrived in Calgary with much fanfare.

Offensively, though, he hasn't brought a boon to the club. Including last night's meeting with the Phoenix Coyotes, he'd been held without a point in six outings.

Stuart said he expects more offensive output from himself but has been concentrating on playing strong defensively first and learning the Flames' way.

"I'm trying to start in our zone first, getting that figured out. It is a little bit different from what we played in Boston," he said.

"That's where you want to start and then I'll go from there.

"I'm probably holding back a bit from jumping into rushes and stuff because I want to make sure I'm picking the right spots. I'm just feeling my way around it all, still.

"I don't want to be putting (Regehr) in vulnerable positions where it's odd-man rushes against him. I'm still figuring when that is for this team but it's coming right along."

Making it easier for critics to question Stuart's value is how seemlessly Wayne Primeau has slipped in with the Flames in a third-line role and had an immediate positive impact.

The big, fast forward has even chipped in a couple of assists.

Both Stuart and Regehr believe the feeling-out process between the two is nearly complete.

In the first couple of outings, Stuart had a tendency to reverse the play, pretty much a no-no in the team's scheme.

In the defensive zone, they've made huge strides in figuring out how aggressive the other is in pursuing players.

At the other end of the rink, they have a firmer grasp on where the other prefers passes, both in-stride and while at the point.

At the end of the day, Regehr believes Stuart's skills -- he's an excellent skater and very good at making the first pass to start the rush -- will have people sitting up and taking notice.

"I know people might think all these things are very little but it makes a huge difference if you know what a guy is gonna do," he said.


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