Whoa there, partner!

RANDY SPORTAK -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 11:08 AM ET

 

  -- Rhett Warrener is used to the playoff rigours.

 That's why the Flames defenceman is enjoying doing less to create more with Andrew Ference as his partner.

  Having spent all season paired with the now injured Denis Gauthier -- who is expected to miss the rest of the season due to a knee injury -- Warrener has been forced to make a few adjustments when paired with Ference.

 "I've just got to learn to get out of his way," Warrener said.

 "I'm serious. There's times where Denis would bump the puck over to me but Andrew is skating with it and I'm in his way."

 Ference, known more for his ability to skate with the puck than the hard-hitting Gauthier, broke out in laughter when told of Warrener's reaction.

 "I know a couple of times I got motoring around the net and he was there for an outlet but was looking at me and wondering how he was going to get out of the way," Ference said. "I think it takes more adjusting for him than for me.

 "Playing with him is easy because he backs me up."

 Ference is making it look easy.

 Elevated to top-four status midway through the Game 6 marathon loss to Vancouver, he has flourished ever since.

 In the Game 7 overtime win over the Canucks, he logged nearly 26 minutes of ice time. The total was 24:07 in the Game 1 win over

 .

 Of course, there are easier teams to face than the Canucks and Red Wings, a pair of offensive juggernauts.

 Ference relishes the challenge.

 "The best games I've had in my whole career were against top guys. You're mentally so sharp because you're on edge the entire time you're out there," Ference said. "That's the whole reason you want to play in the NHL, to play against the best in the world and to ... feel rewarded about what you just did."

 Warrener said he expected nothing less from Ference when thrown into the fray.

 "He's been there before," Warrener said, referring to Ference's run to the Eastern Conference final with Pittsburgh in 2001. "It's how we expect him to play. He's been a good player all year and is experienced."

 Before this playoff run, Ference said that 2001 post-season run was the highlight of his career. He netted 10 points in 18 games thanks to time on the powerplay with the likes of Mario Lemieux, Jaromir Jagr, Martin Straka and Alexei Kovalev.

 This year's success, even though he has just one point -- an assist, has surpassed that memory.

 "This is better," he said. "For the group of guys here, making the playoffs was such a big achievement, we had to overcome a lot of adversity and we did it with a really tight group of guys.

 "When you win with that kind of respect for what the guys across the room have to do, it makes you appreciate it more."


Photos