Flames' Butler looks solid amid Regehr hoopla
Steve MacFarlane, QMI Agency
CALGARY - Lost in the hype of the clash between the Flames and former defenceman Robyn Regehr was the performance by the biggest piece that came to Calgary in that trade on draft weekend.
Defenceman Chris Butler didn’t do anything flashy Friday night during a 2-1 loss at the First Niagara Center, but he was noticeably solid in his own end.
There have been definite ups-and-downs when it comes to the 25-year-old rearguard, who has three helpers and a minus-2 rating through 12 games, but he’s been simplifying his game and improving along the way as Jay Bouwmeester’s partner — the spot vacated by Regehr.
IN THE CREASE
Regehr got the start along with Jordan Leopold on the Sabres blueline, going toe-to-toe with Flames captain Jarome Iginla on the first shift. But it wasn’t the big-hitting rearguard pushing Iginla around. The Flames winger made an effort to get in a couple of shots on his former longtime teammate in the corners on that first shift ... Sabres coach Lindy Ruff expressed “disappointment” over the four-game ban RW Patrick Kaleta received for a head butt this week. “I understand, it’s a new standard,” Ruff said. By any standard, I don’t think head-butting will ever be acceptable on the ice.
AGAINST THE GLASS
Buffalo fans may be some of the most dedicated, mischievous and/or misguided in the league. Although there’s no way to confirm it, when the fire alarm went off at the Flames hotel room riiiiiight around nap time Friday afternoon, first thought was a fan is looking to give the home team the edge. Same thing happened a few years back at a different hotel the Flames were staying at in Buffalo. Not sure that’s a coincidence ... Maybe we should cut the Buffalo fans a break, though. Many of them sang along with O Canada before puck drop. Must be a border town ... The way rookie G Jhonas Enroth has played this season in relief of Ryan Miller, the Sabres may have a goalie controversy on their hands. Might explain Ruff bringing a quick end to his morning media scrum before the subject was brought up.
Flames W Lee Stempniak played in Phoenix with Kyle Turris last year, and although nobody yet knows what the 22-year-old centre’s ceiling in the NHL will be, Stempniak knows what he does well. “He’s got a great shot, and a great release on it. He’s a good skater, he’s got good moves. If he’s able to create space and get his shot off using those skills, that would be his biggest asset.” Rumours persist the Flames are continuing to pursue the third-overall selection from the 2007 NHL Entry Draft, but that the Coyotes may force him to sit out the season if he doesn’t sign a qualifying offer. “Hopefully it gets resolved for both sides and he can get back playing,” said Stempniak. “I think that’s one of the biggest ways to improve and establish yourself.” ... With Kaleta out of the lineup, the Sabres brought up rookie Corey Tropp. He didn’t do much, but his debut at least presented Ruff with an opportunity for a funny line. “I told him I wanted him to score, I told him I wanted him to defend really well, and I told him if he got in a fight, to throw ‘em with both hands,” the Sabres bench boss said of his expectations.