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.