Grind Line scores in bunches early
November 21, 2002
BY NICHOLAS J. COTSONIKA
FREE PRESS SPORTS WRITER
VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- The Grind Line? Call it the Goal Line. Kris Draper, Kirk Maltby and Darren McCarty each scored Tuesday night in the Red Wings' 5-0 rout at Calgary, looking little like the lunch-bucket brigade they're supposed to be.
First, Maltby sent a short pass to the right hash marks, and with a defender on his back, McCarty whipped the puck past the goaltender. Then, McCarty pounced on a turnover, raced up the right wing and sent the puck across, and Maltby ripped a one-timer. Finally, Maltby curled and fed Draper, whose shot from the slot zipped into the upper left corner.
"I think all three of us have a lot more confidence offensively," McCarty said. "We're going to be the same defensively. We know that's why we're out there. We know we have to take care of our end first. But I think last year's Stanley Cup run really helped us, because each of us chipped in with some big goals at different times. We're just trying to carry that over."
McCarty scored four playoff goals last season, all on Colorado's Patrick Roy in the Western Conference finals. Maltby scored three, two against Carolina in the Cup finals. Draper scored two, one in the finals. Between Games 2 and 3 of the finals, Carolina coach Paul Maurice said, "I don't know if you can call them a defensive line anymore. They are on fire, scoring left and right."
Maltby and McCarty each have five goals this season, and Draper has two. That's even more impressive when you consider Maltby entered Wednesday night leading the NHL with four shorthanded goals; McCarty already has equaled his output from last season; and Brendan Shanahan has five goals, Brett Hull four and Luc Robitaille two.
After practice Wednesday at GM Place, Maltby said, "Well, Darren scored 50 goals in junior. I had 50. Kris only had like 30 or something." Maltby smiled and looked over at Draper, who was involved in an interview. "When you have a team of stars like this, you've got role players: offensive and defensive players. But everyone can play the game."
Finished with his interview, Draper interrupted: "Shut up!" Maltby played three Ontario Hockey League seasons of 60 games or more and scored 50 goals in 1991-92. McCarty played three OHL seasons of 60 or more and scored 55 in '91-92. Draper scored 19 goals in 39 games in '90-91, his only OHL season. "I didn't play as many games as you!"
Draper walked away laughing.
"When you're playing this game with confidence and having fun," McCarty said, "it's a lot more enjoyable."
Needless to say, it's pretty enjoyable for this line right now. Whatever you call it.