Respect not lost on foes

RANDY SPORTAK, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 12:19 PM ET

Robyn Regehr versus Ales Hemsky.

Time and time again, it's one of the great battles within the Battle of Alberta.

Every game, it seems the Edmonton Oilers winger tries to beat Regehr down the wing -- the tunnel of death.

Often, the Flames defenceman ends up crushing his opponent into the boards to make Hemsky look like Wile E. Coyote.

There are times when Hemsky ends up as the Roadrunner and gets away.

Either way, it's usually a sight to behold.

"It's a great battle," Oilers captain Ethan Moreau said.

"I don't enjoy watching Hemmer get hit. I wish he wasn't so brave, and I wish he would pick his spots better, but that's what makes him successful.

"He's willing to do things other players aren't."

To Flames fans, it often appears Hemsky's sacrificing himself.

However, there have been times he's won the race. Think of the tally a couple of seasons ago when he took advantage of a neutral zone turnover, gained a step on Regehr, deked Miikka Kiprusoff for the goal, knocked the net off the posts and then slammed himself into the glass in celebration. Hemsky's goal was the difference in a 2-1 game.

"It is tough to beat him one-on-one, so you are happy if you make a play like that," said Hemsky of going up against Regehr. "It was good for the confidence. He is a tough guy to play against."

Tough, but Hemsky won't say dirty. In fact, it's quite the opposite.

For all the times Hemsky has been left in a crumpled heap, he won't say a negative word about the way Regehr has handled him.

"You know what, he's a great player. He's one of the toughest guys to play against because he finishes his checks, but he's not a dirty player," Hemsky said.

"He's tough on the check. It's hard, but it's the game he plays.

"I respect him. He doesn't slash you, just finishes the check."

Regehr says he has to be hard on Hemsky. He has to take advantage of his size difference: Regehr is 6-foot-3, 225 lb, while Hemsky is 6-foot, 192 lb. Otherwise, it will be a long night.

"He doesn't just have skill, and he's actually got a lot of speed," Regehr said. "A lot of people don't realize it, but he's a very quick guy, especially when he gets a chance to wind it up in his own end and come through the neutral zone.

"He's a tough guy to hit, and when you do get that opportunity as a defenceman, you want to take advantage of it," Regehr continued.

"He is a very large part of their offence, and if you can neutralize him in any way or make it as hard as possible on him, you're doing your job."

RANDY.SPORTAK@SUNMEDIA.CA

THREE STARS

AS CHOSEN BY RANDY SPORTAK

DUSTIN BOYD, FLAMES

Third two-point night in a five-game stretch for the fourth-liner.

RENE BOURQUE, FLAMES

A three-point night (a goal and two assists) for the leading scorer.

NIGEL DAWES, FLAMES

Two-goal performance doubled his output this season.


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