CALGARY -- Anybody who considered Jamal Mayers as a throw-in to the Dion Phaneuf trade should consider these facts.
In the last three Calgary Flames victories, Mayers has either scored a game-winner, set up a goal which would have been the game-winner had there not been a final-minute tally to make it a one-goal win or assisted on the eventual game-winner.
So much for the tag of being a role player on the fourth line.
“I wasn’t always a fourth-line player, but that’s the role I’m on with this team, and you want to relish that role and force the coaches to make decisions to play you more,” Mayers said. “I think, for the most part, we’ve all done that.
“Ny (Eric Nystrom) and myself read off each other well, and with Curtis (Glencross, who was hurt a couple of games ago) and now Back (Mikael Backlund), we all can skate, and if we hold onto the puck down low in the offensive zone, we can create opportunities.
“Our mindset going into each game is we can
make a difference.”
They have made a difference.
Since coming to Calgary in the Jan. 31 deal, Mayers has provided what was expected. He’s killed penalties, won faceoffs, played physical, scrapped a few times and provided energy, just as you’d expect from an 11-year NHLer who knows his job.
The bonus is the offence of late — one goal and three assists in the last five outings, and all at key times.
Mayers opened the scoring in the club’s
2-0 win over the Ottawa Senators March 11. He set up Nystrom’s tally which made it a 2-0 count en route to the 3-2 win over Colorado on the St. Patrick’s Day.
Then, he added a pair of helpers to spark the Flames to their 4-3 win over the San Jose Sharks Friday night.
None of those assists were cheapies, either. They were all either a case of being physical on the forecheck or making a perfect pass. Actually, it was a case of doing both on a couple of those helpers.
Mayers may be among the fourth-line crew playing about 10 minutes per game, but he’s chipping in.
“You can’t expect the same guys to do it every night,” Mayers said. “You’ve got to have guys chipping in here and there, and, hopefully, we can keep going.”
That was the plan with the trades that sent away high-priced players such as Phaneuf and Olli Jokinen.
The Flames wanted more depth, and the coaches now believe they can match their fourth line against any other line in the NHL.
They’ve delivered with goals and momentum-building energy time and time again.
“That line is really important,” said Flames head coach Brent Sutter. “I truly believe you have to be a four-line team. It’s too tough of a league not to be — too many games happen too quickly, and there’s too much travel involved not to have a four-line team.”