Wild men on the loose!

RANDY SPORTAK -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 8:58 AM ET

ST. PAUL -- Robyn Regehr doesn't need to know the specific numbers to understand the impact.

The Calgary Flames defenceman is well aware of the damage Minnesota Wild linemates Marian Gaborik and Pavol Demitra have inflicted on the rest of the NHL lately.

In turn, Regehr appreciates a huge part of his team's success in its next two games -- critical contests in its quest to nail down a playoff spot -- rest on him and defence partner Brad Stuart.

The Flames don't concentrate on matching forward lines as much as defence pairings against opposition snipers. That means Regehr and Stuart will be asked to shut down one of the NHL's most prolific duos tonight and Thursday at the Xcel Energy Center.

"Those two are a big reason why they've been on a roll lately," Regehr said after yesterday's practice.

"You look earlier in the season, when those two were out of the lineup, they were just an OK team. But with those guys healthy, they're always a threat to get a chance or score."

During the Wild's nine-game game winning streak, Gaborik has five goals and eight assists, while Demitra has collected four goals and seven helpers. Over the last 24 games, they've combined for 67 points.

With the sensational Slovaks in the lineup together, Minnesota is 30-7-5.

Limiting them is tough enough. Stopping them completely is nearly impossible.

"You have to stay out of the penalty box," said Flames forward Marcus Nilson.

"If we're playing against them, we have to play in their end, leave the third guy high and the other two guys have to be ready to backcheck like crazy. They might get something anyways because they're so good but it's really big to be all coming back because it's tough to go through four or five guys."

Surprisingly, the Flames have done a good job this season against the pair.

Gaborik has been healthy for four of the six meetings this season and netted one goal and two assists.

Demitra has two goals and one helper in five games.

Part of Calgary's success stems from being physical on the pair. Another part comes from playing well offensively.

"You have to make them play in areas they don't want to play and that's their zone," explained Flames assistant coach Rob Cookson.

"If you watch the games, you'll see they spend very little time in their end. They rely on Wes Walz to be a checking centreman in their zone and, when the puck is turned over, they're gone out of the zone, so you make sure to pull them back in their zone to defend when you're on offence.

"When you do that, they don't have the puck as much."

They don't need the puck for a long time to do damage.

Gaborik is notorious for being silent through much of a game but then appearing from nowhere for a loose puck and, in the blink of an eye, turning on the red light.

"Gaborik is the type of guy, it's one shift, could be one shot. (Jarome) Iginla is like that," said Wild head coach Jacques Lemaire.

"Iginla is more steady in his game but he's a guy that it only takes one shot.

"It's one play, one shift, and you never know which one it's gonna be.

"It's a little similar when we play them, when we play Iginla, we got to keep an eye on him all the time. If you don't keep an eye on him, he's gone."

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MINNY'S SUPER SLOVAKS VS. FLAMES: 2006-07

Game Score Gaborik Demitra Notable

Dec. 7 3-2 Wild (SO) INJ INJ Both out due to injury

Dec. 12 5-2 Flames INJ 0G, 0A Demitra was minus-2

Jan. 9 3-0 Flames 0G, 0A 0G, 0A Gaborik had one shot on goal

Jan. 26 2-1 Wild (SO) 0G, 1A 0G, 0A Demitra had shootout winner

Feb. 28 2-1 Flames (SO) 0G, 0A 1G, 0A Gaborik held to one shot

March 17 4-2 Wild 1G, 1A 1G, 1A Assisted on each other's goal


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