SUN Hockey Pool

Partners sharin' wealth

RANDY SPORTAK, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:19 AM ET

There actually is a disadvantage to having Robyn Regehr as a defence partner.

You're on the ice with a big target on your chest.

At least, that's what Calgary Flames defenceman Adrian Aucoin has come to find lately.

Aucoin, who has been paired with Regehr for the past couple of months, has noticed opposing players are more keen to skate to his side of the ice when on the rush.

"If they have any brains in them, that's true. If I came down the ice and saw me or him, I would stay far away from him," Aucoin said. "The scary thing is, a lot of times the puck is dumped into my side, he's the first guy in the corner to get it anyway.

"He carries most of the workload, for sure."

Aucoin may defer plenty of credit to Regehr, but it's worth noting Aucoin has taken his game to a new level.

Not that he'll take credit for it. After all, Regehr really is one of the best players in the game.

"He's such a safety net out there, does everything smart," Aucoin said of his partner. "He's a very low-risk player. The last few years, I've been with a lot of young guys, so I've been more that role. I'm not a high-risk player, but with Robyn there, I can stand on the blueline a little more and jump up into the rush a little more."

Aucoin and Regehr were paired up the first game after the club's infamous 6-1 drubbing in San Jose in mid-November. Since then, Calgary's rattled off a 20-6-3 record to rocket to the top of Northwest Division standings and Aucoin has been the top-notch defenceman who appears to have turned back the clock a few years. Actually, he'll admit having gone to school since joining the Flames prior to last season.

"I think it's shown the last couple of months I'm finally starting to get it," said Aucoin, 35. "It's not easy teaching an old guy new things because I've been playing my way for so many years. I tip my hat to (associate coach) Jim Playfair for that because he's worked a lot with me and it's helped my game."

The key, he insists, is positional play.

"I've always been a pretty sound position guy, but I'm a real read-and-react player," Aucoin said. "He's adjusted where I am before I read and react, and it forces the opposition to do certain things you can predict a lot easier.

"It's where I am on the ice on the rushes or in the defensive zone. It's little things, but it's helped me get to spots quicker."

Whatever the Flames have done for Aucoin, it's paying big dividends. With six goals and 22 points, he's having another solid season and currently on a scoring streak of five games, in which he's collected six assists. He's also back to being a big-minute player.

His ice time isn't akin to those pre-lockout days with the New York Islanders, when he had a few games over the 40-minute mark, but Aucoin has been seeing well over 20 minutes a game nearly every game since the change.

"A lot of it has to do with the things I've been working on, with playing with Robyn and I've got to give our forwards a lot of credit, too. They've been playing so well, the other team doesn't have sustained attacks," he said. "It makes it an easier game out there."


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