Glencross happy to take on top-line task

STEVE MACFARLANE, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:09 AM ET

Joining the top line during the third period of a huge shootout victory over the Detroit Red Wings last week, winger Curtis Glencross has already made an impression on newcomer Olli Jokinen.

"He's a good all-around player," said the 30-year-old Finn, who will find himself between Glencross and Jarome Iginla again tonight against the Dallas Stars.

"He works really hard on every shift. He's really good on the forecheck, skates as well as anyone in this league."

And Glencross knows, despite the upgrade in skill level on his trio, he has to play exactly the same way he has all year in what's turned out to be a pretty special first season with the Flames.

"I've just got to do the same things that got me there," said Glencross.

"The coaches were saying that to me (Monday) morning: 'Don't forget the things that got you there. You can't get away from it just because you're bumped up to the top line right now. You've still got to take care of the things that you do. They're a huge part of your game.'"

Those gritty things he and his coaches are talking about are what quickly made him a fan favourite in Calgary by crossing provincial lines and signing with the Flames as a free agent over the summer after finishing last season with the Edmonton Oilers.

Racking up 12 goals and 38 points in 63 games so far -- mostly in third-line duty -- those numbers take a backseat to his impressive plus-14 rating.

"I've still got to be aggressive, get on the forecheck and play the body," said Glencross.

"It's all about puck battles."

The battles get more difficult when you join two of the most high-profile offensive players as a line combination.

"It doesn't get easier," said Glencross. "You play against the other team's best defensive unit when you're out there on the first line," said Glencross.

"It's a good challenge for me. I'm excited for it. You can't say very often you get to play with two calibre guys like that on the same line.

"It's awesome, I love it."

So does Jokinen, who is finding even more room to move his big 6-foot-3 body around with Glencross bumping bodies deep in the offensive zone.

"It's easy to play with him," said Jokinen.

"He goes to the net and does a lot of the dirty work.

"You're not going to see him on the scoresheet every night, but it's a lot of fun to play with a guy like him."


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