Healthy left wing Glass is thriving during Penguins' uneven play
The Penguins have experienced a malaise during the NHL's dog days.
Luckily for them, left wing Tanner Glass keeps hitting everything.
Glass, whose season was temporarily sidetracked by a broken hand in November, is healthy again and giving the Penguins a steady dose of physicality during an unsteady time.
“The exact thing happened to us when I played in Vancouver during this time of the year,” Glass said of the Penguins' recent sporadic play.
“We were way ahead in that division and got sloppy. It does happen.”
So, how does a team overcome such indifferent play?
Glass has the answer.
“You start playing hard,” Glass said. “You start playing even harder. That's my focus.”
His teammates and coaches have noticed.
Glass broke a Penguins' record on Saturday in Dallas when he was credited with 13 hits. No player in the NHL has produced a higher total this season.
The Penguins' performance in Dallas was otherwise forgettable, but it left an indelible impression on the coaching staff.
“That was impressive,” assistant coach Tony Granato said. “Very, very impressive.”
Coach Dan Bylsma offered even higher praise of Glass' recent play.
Glass followed the 13-hit performance with six more hits —along with a goal and an assist — in Monday's 3-0 victory against Buffalo.
“He's had maybe his two best games of the year,” Bylsma said.
Much like they did against the Stars, the Penguins started sluggish against Buffalo. While the top two lines required some time to heat up against the Sabres, Glass threw a number of crushing hits early in the contest to provide the Penguins and Consol Energy Center with some life.
Glass isn't just delivering hits, but is doing so in a legal but violent fashion. Of the 19 hits he has delivered during the past two games, more than half of those on the receiving end have crashed to the ice following impact.
“What he's doing right now is crazy,” center Brandon Sutter said. “After his second shift, I told him he had three hits already. I was laughing on the bench. He's just really, really good right now. He's playing great hockey for us.”
Glass, thanks largely to having an entire training camp, started this season at a considerably higher level than his first campaign with the Penguins.
Glass broke his hand while blocking a shot from Canadiens defenseman P.K. Subban. However, he remained on the ice and blocked two more Subban shots during that shift, which gained the winger even more respect.
“He had a great start to the season,” Granato said. “That play when he got hurt, you know, that really say something about his character. He stayed out there and blocked two more shots. I think maybe he goes unnoticed sometimes because of the (star power) that we have on this team. But he shouldn't go unnoticed.
“It took him a while to find his niche in Pittsburgh, but he's found it. He's a big part of our team.”
Glass also plans on playing a significant role in the Penguins kicking a recent funk that has seen them suffer unbecoming losses against teams with inferior records like Florida.
“During that game in Dallas,” Glass said, “I looked at Ebby (Andrew Ebbett) on the bench, and I told him to cover for me because I'm going to be out of position a little bit to throw some hits. I wanted to get something going. I'm going to do all that I can to get us going.”