It may have been Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Matt Niskanen‘s first multi-goal game, but on Tuesday night, Tanner Glass stole the show.
It’s well known that the Penguins have one of the best power plays in the NHL. The Penguins have converted on 25 percent of their chances with the man advantage, and it’s not difficult to see why when their first unit consists of Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, James Neal and Chris Kunitz. The fifth man is usually Kris Letang, but ever since his injury Niskanen has stepped up and played the role marvelously.
What may surprise people is that the Penguins currently have the second best penalty kill in the NHL as well. Glass is a huge reason why. Being a good penalty killer has a lot more to do with effort and courage than it does skill. There aren’t many people who would be willing to lay down in front of a slap shot traveling over 100 mph. Glass never seems to mind.
At the 2012 Skills Competition, Predators defenseman Shea Weber recorded a slap shot that was recorded at 106 mph. He is the quarterback of the Predators’ power play and their system is designed to get him the puck so he can unleash his devastating shot.
The Predators went 0-for-4 Tuesday night with the man advantage and Glass finished the game with five blocked shots. Glass only logged 10 minutes of ice time, but was the most crucial piece to the Penguins shutting down the Predators’ power play, which entered the game as the 6th best in the NHL.
At one point in the second period Glass was forced to give his stick to defenseman Brooks Orpik, but still disallowed Weber from getting any pucks toward the goal mouth. He continuously dropped to a knee and opened himself up to Weber, who was forced to dish the puck off from the top of the umbrella countless times.
When the puck did get fired from up top, Glass was always in the shooting lane. He was in noticeable pain on the bench from being a puck magnet all night, but I’m sure he’ll take a few bruises in exchange for a win every time.
With just under 20 seconds left in the game, the Predators pulled goaltender Pekka Rinne and Crosby ended up on a 2-on-1 with Glass. Crosby fed it over to Glass who had a clear shot at the open net from the slot. No one deserved a goal more than Glass after sacrificing his body the entire game and it would have been the perfect ending. His shot hit both posts and didn’t cross the goal line.
It might not have been a fairy tale finish for Glass, but he showed why he is as crucial a player as any for the Penguins.