SUN Hockey Pool

Flames catch good break

STEVE MACFARLANE, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:39 AM ET

Good news hasn't been too common around the Calgary Flames this season.

They got some yesterday after defenceman Robyn Regehr had an MRI to determine the extent of an injury to his foot.

Initially, a fracture was suspected after Regehr blocked a shot in Thursday night's 3-2 overtime loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins.

The diagnosis yesterday was much more palatable as the Flames head out on a critical six-game road trip that starts tomorrow in Chicago.

The rugged rearguard may even be able to take part in the opener after the test determined there is no fracture.

He has a bone bruise and some soft tissue trauma, and is considered day-to-day.

Equipment guru Gus Thorson was tweaking Regehr's skate yesterday to give him extra protection the next time he laces up.

If the team wants to be contending for a playoff spot by the time the Christmas break comes around, they'll need a healthy Regehr, who is about as underrated as defencemen get.

Often overshadowed by open-ice monster Dion Phaneuf, Regehr strikes more fear into opponents about to enter his corner.

"He's a big part of our team and he's definitely not underrated in our room," said Flames captain Jarome Iginla of Regehr.

"We know how hard he plays. When he's out there, the other offensive guys, when they go into a corner, they know he's out there. They're aware of him and they always have their heads up."

Mashing his competition into the advertising isn't all Regehr does.

Iginla rattles off a few key components to the 6-ft.-3, 225-pounder's game.

He has a hard shot from the point, is a critical element to the Flames penalty kill, and is considered a leader in the room.

"He is one of the top shutdown guys in the league. He's a big part of our team," said Iginla. "He'd be a big part of any team."

Still unsure whether Regehr would be out for any length of time yesterday afternoon, Anders Eriksson -- who has been relied upon for more minutes as the season has evolved because of injuries to guys like Rhett Warrener and Adrian Aucoin -- admitted the loss would be a huge obstacle to overcome.

"In my mind, he's the cornerstone of the defence," said Eriksson. "He plays a really physical, hard, important kind of a game. Nobody really wants to play against him but everybody wants to play with him.

"You can't ever replace that but I know we can, as a group, step up and try to fill that hole."

They may still have to, at least temporarily.

The thought of getting into his first career NHL game had Adam Pardy frothing yesterday.

"I'm ready. Can't wait for it," said the 6-ft.-4 blueliner who has watched the last couple of games from the sidelines after being called up from the AHL this week.

"Nobody wants to see Robyn go down. That's not a good thing, but I've just got to look at it as an opportunity for me and try and take advantage of that to make the step here and get my foot in the door."

No disrespect to the sizeable and promising Bonavista, Nfld., product, but at this point it would be much better for the Flames if Regehr's foot is strong enough to keep that door shut to any unproven additions.


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