Flames defence holds up minus stalwart

STEVE MACFARLANE, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:47 PM ET

MONTREAL — Sampling life without Robyn Regehr, the Calgary Flames are finding the taste isn’t as bitter as some might have expected.

They’re not a better team without the big blueliner in the lineup, but they haven’t exactly crumbled defensively while Regehr nurses a sore knee on the sidelines the last two games, either.

If all that Internet chatter and gossip turns into reality, Regehr is asked and agrees to waive his no-trade clause and is eventually moved out of Calgary, recent events might make the idea of losing their cornerstone defender a little less painful.

In Saturday’s 2-1 shootout victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs, defenders dropped in front of 17 of the 22 shots blocked by the Flames on the night.

Jay Bouwmeester blocked a handful on his own. Anton Babchuk four of them. Adam Pardy deflected four while playing a season-high 25:41.

“It’s tough to replace a guy like (Regehr) but being able to step in to do a job like that, it feels good,” Pardy said Sunday, which the Flames used to recover from back-to-back games in Ottawa and Toronto. “Playing 25 instead of 12, it’s a little change of pace, but it’s fun getting that responsibility.”

Bouwmeester, Cory Sarich, Mark Giordano, Pardy, Babchuk and Brendan Mikkelson have taken on a little more, and even Bouwmeester didn’t have to play his usual 30 minutes against the Leafs.

“He’s been logging tons of minutes this year. He’s been more vocal, I think, lately than what’s normal for Bo — you can’t really judge him on any type of regular scale,” Sarich said.

“You can just see the solidity in his game. He might not have the offensive numbers that everyone wants him to get, but defensively, he’s been rock-solid out there. He’s been leading by example.”

Forwards buying into the team concept has helped.

“The commitment has been there and there’s been some extra work ethic to get some results here as of late,” said Sarich.

“It’s what we’ve been kind of striving for all year and it’s starting to come together.

“The forwards have made our jobs a lot easier.”


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