Minus McGrattan

Flames McGrattan and Avalanche Koci Fight in Denver

It’s funny, I never thought this would be that much of a topic, but it has been the last three Overtime shows on The FAN 960. Calgary has played four games since the Olympic break, and has had a pretty consistent lineup in those games. The only changes they’ve made have been subtle. Conroy in for Backlund. Staios in for Pardy, due to a trade. Other than that, things have been pretty static. So where does this leave Brian McGrattan?

I write this more to hear what the FN has to say. To me, it’s a no-brainer. Calgary’s success the last three games has come for a few different reasons. One of them has been their ability to roll four lines. The four forward lines have been able to wear teams down by a constant forecheck and a constant cycle down low in the opposing end. The back pressure has been good. Forcing turnovers and the blueline, forcing bad passes between the blues. And for the most part, it’s been there from start to finish. But most importantly, we’ve seen it from everyone.

The last two games, Jarome Iginla’s line has been the most dangerous. But instead of having a drop off when they get on the ice, it’s carried over. Langkow’s line goes out and has a strong shift. Then Conroy’s line goes out and gets some pressure. And the fourth line is able to do the same things. Mayers-Nystrom-Glencross have been able to play solid minutes, and the ice times bear that out.

Almost every forward, at the end of a game, is up above 10 minutes on the ice. Mayers hasn’t been, he’s been averaging around 9:30 the last few games. His linemates usually get closer to the 12 or 13 minute range, mostly because they play PK time. So at the end of the night, you see an even-strength fourth line playing around nine or 10 minutes together. And they do good things, when they’re playing.

To me, that leaves McGrattan as an easy odd man out. I think he’s fine in his role, but right now, I think Calgary is rocking because of their ability to roll four lines, at least in part. McGrattan doesn’t give you that ability. But maybe I’m off base, I don’t know. It’s been brought up on Overtime, with callers wondering why he’s not in. So maybe I’m in the minority.

Thoughts?

  • I don't dislike Big-Ern but I also feel as though he's somewhat superfluous. There have been a few games this year where his line has been the best one out there but that doesn't mean it was because of him.

    He's an entertaining fighter and can spark the team but like RossCreek said, if a guy's only playing a buck and half, why is he dressing?

    Oh. R O: Jameson's.

  • I don't think Mayers is very useful. About the only thing he can do above average is win a faceoff and that's a highly overrated ability. Glencross drives the play on the fourth line, that's clear.

    I don't know much about Nystrom's game at centre but if he can do it then I would let Dawes draw in right away over Mayers. Although honestly I'm not that big on Nystrom, fast and hard working but not all that good at playing hockey (on the wing).

    And boot Backlund to the minors, he is not helping the team or himself in the bigs.

    So to answer your question, Mayers is the odd man out.

    • Ha, that's too funny…my new post is on Jamal Mayers and how much I've been a fan of him.

      It's more from a "love what he brings" standpoint, as opposed to a "he's better than this guy or that guy" standpoint.

      I'm with you on Dawes, I'd like to see him back.

  • maimster

    Rick Rypien
    Darcy Hordichuk

    I agree with your general point but these two players you cite are just awful. They get dominated against weaklings, constantly spending shift after shift in their own zone.

    I don't mind a useful replacement-level player who can also fight, in the Georges Laraque mold let's say.

    That said, fourth lines only have two roles as far as I can tell:
    1.) Taking a few shifts here and there to give the main EV units some rest.
    2.) Moving up the depth chart in case of injury.

    For both roles I would much prefer that our fourth line be occupied by Dawes types, guys who will dominate similar level opposition and move up a line if required.

    • "For both roles I would much prefer that our fourth line be occupied by Dawes types, guys who will dominate similar level opposition and move up a line if required."

      I agree…and if I'm reading you correctly, you'd be in favor of a guy like Mayers staying in the lineup. So who would you be thinking of as an odd man out?

      I think Glencross fits your mold on that 4th line. Does Nystrom stay just because he can play center? Do you look at the third line? That's the dilemma I guess.

  • McGrattan has a role and plays it relatively well… but with a healthy roster in Calgary, there's no way he should be dressed as a regular other than maybe for the purpose of shaking up a struggling team. I'm guessing this will be a near-unanimous consensus 'round these parts.

    To me, these types of players have little value post-trade deadline. I'd much rather prefer guys like Brandon Prust, Arron Asham, Rick Rypien, Chris Neil, even a Darcy Hordichuk, guys that can at least play 6 or 8 minutes. Guys like Boogaard that contribute nothing and play 1:30 need to be removed from the game. And I like fighting.

    With them rolling four lines, perhaps they can finally put a "figure-four" on the competition ~ that was my shot at a Gene Principe-like pun…