SUN Hockey Pool

Robyn looking for top 'Gehr

RANDY SPORTAK, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:37 AM ET

Robyn Regehr is a candidate for Canada's 2010 Olympic team and considered one of the best shutdown defencemen in the NHL.

Yet, prior to last night's action, Regehr was sporting the worst plus-minus in the NHL -- an eye-popping minus-5.

"I haven't felt that great and haven't played that great," Regehr admitted yesterday. "It's good we're still winning."

Perhaps just as puzzling is the fact Regehr has been paired this season with Dion Phaneuf, who's sporting a minus-4 rating.

Both are coming off a minus-3 night in Tuesday's 4-3 win over the Montreal Canadiens.

The usual consideration would be to pin those defensive troubles on Phaneuf, since he's known more for his offensive game and was below the even mark in plus-minus last season.

However, Regehr has been off the mark to start the year and really struggled against Montreal.

The first Canadiens goal was the result of a turnover in the Calgary zone, but Regehr admitted to a turnover of his own in the neutral zone earlier. The second goal was a mad scramble when Phaneuf blocked a shot.

The third goal allowed was a result of Tomas Plekanec eluding Regehr behind the net, but still being forced to the circle before firing a no-look, backhand shot past Miikka Kiprusoff, who was out of position. The goal was not entirely Regehr's fault, but he wasn't shirking anything.

"You try to be aggressive behind the net. I got tangled up on the net and got spun around, then he comes around and makes a pretty good play," he said.

Eventually, Regehr's game will round into form, but it sure makes you wonder why a pairing of him and Phaneuf doesn't add up.

Both are on the Olympic radar. Phaneuf was a Norris Trophy runner up two seasons ago. They should be a dynamic duo.

"We've only played three games together, so it's really not a whole lot of time," Regehr insisted.

"We're still sorting some things out. It's just being together, playing together and playing well together. Then you gain some confidence, and that helps, too. It's a work in progress.

"But Dion and I both realize we need to be a much better pair and we will be. We just need to continue to work on it."

One theory would be Regehr is struggling because Phaneuf can tend to freelance on the ice, which causes Regehr to over-compensate.

Not true, he said.

"It's me getting used to playing with a different partner and it's him getting used to playing with a different partner," Regehr said.

"There's not one right way or wrong way. It's just you have to get used to one another. That comes with experience and playing time together."

Considering past head coaches have tried to play Regehr and Phaneuf together with no more success, first instinct would be that head coach Brent Sutter would change it up.

Regehr played with Jay Bouwmeester in the pre-season and both were rounding into form, while Phaneuf has traditionally played well with Mark Giordano.

Sutter may do that eventually, but it doesn't appear in the works.

"If you're looking for a quick fix, they don't happen," he said. "It's not so much a pair. It's individually having your games to the level they need to be at. It's worrying about yourself first, making sure your game's up to par and the way you need to play. The pairing will sort itself out.

"It's not about, 'I'm not playing well because I'm playing with this guy' or 'I'm playing well because I'm playing with that guy.' It comes down to individuals just playing well.

"When that happens, everything just seems to flow."

RANDY.SPORTAK@SUNMEDIA.CA


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