The last time Brian McGrattan dressed for the Nashville Predators, the team was shutout by Henrik Lundqvist in New York on January 17. He had not seen the Predators’ bench in 6 games.
On Saturday night, however, McGrattan made his return to the Nashville lineup in the Predators’ 3-1 win against the St. Louis Blues at Bridgestone Arena.
“It was great,” McGrattan said. “It felt good. It’s always good to get into the lineup. It’s good to get the win and it was great to just get back in and be a part of it.”
At 13:27 of the second period, with the Predators leading 2-0, McGrattan and St. Louis’ Ryan Reaves dropped the gloves. It was the Predators’ forward’s first bout in 12 games – his last was nearly two months ago, December 10, against Anaheim’s George Parros.
“(Reaves) asked me to go,” McGrattan said. “I don’t turn them down too much. I felt it was the right time. We scored a couple of quick goals in the first period – I probably would have turned him down there, but it was later on in the game and I thought we needed a little push. Hopefully the rink got into it and the boys got something out of it.”
McGrattan seemed to land the larger number of punches on Reaves, but still walked away with a bloody nose and had to receive stitches above his left eye.
“Nobody’s ever been in a fight and not gotten hit before,” McGrattan said. “He got a shot in.”
McGrattan admitted that part of the game is the expectation of receiving a fist in the face. However, he also explained that his fighting style – throwing flurries of punches – is somewhat designed to counteract the instances when he takes a shot.
“You’re going to throw and you’re going to get hit no matter at what point of the fight it is,” McGrattan said. “As long as you show up, you can get the job done. The way I fight, I like to throw them and that’s what I did.”
Nashville head coach Barry Trotz admitted that he approved of McGrattan’s timing.
“‘Big Ern’ is as tough as they come and he’s not going to lose too many,” Trotz said. “I give a lot of credit. I don’t know much about Reaves, but he’s a tough kid. It was a good bout. They came out banging. ‘Big Ern’ set the tone – he had three big hits right off the bat.”