X-factor? Bruins know Red Wings’ Luke Glendening well
|04.22.14 at 1:26 pm ET|
DETROIT — There’s something about Luke Glendening.
At least there is for Mike Babcock, and that’s really all that matters as the Red Wings try to find a way to both quiet Boston’s scorers and create advantageous matchups for their own.
The first two games of the series saw Babcock use Glendening — an undrafted rookie fourth-line center who played three games on a tryout with the Providence Bruins two years ago — in ways that demonstrated significant trust in the player. Glendening, who was a two-year captain for Michigan and wore an ‘A’ as a sophomore, is a key member of Detroit’s penalty kill, but he also saw plenty of shifts against David Krejci‘s line in the first two games. He scored his first career playoff goal and second career NHL goal in Game 1 against the Krejci line and was later on the ice for Milan Lucic‘s goal.
If you’re surprised by how big a role he’s been given thus far, don’t be. Torey Krug, who saw plenty of him in college, isn’t.
“I’m not surprised, and we don’t even view him as [a fourth-liner],” Krug said. “He’s a good player and he shuts down opposing teams’ guys. In Game 1 he’s out there when it’s 1-0 in the last minute. I saw him in that role before and I’m not surprised that he’s in it now.”
As the series shifts to Joe Louis Arena and Babcock gets last change, he wants to see more of Glendening against Boston’s best players. Babcock wants to get his young scorers, Gustav Nyquist and Tomas Tatar, away from Boston’s power forwards, as Lucic and Jarome Iginla have rendered them invisible through the first two games.
Assuming he tries to get Pavel Datsyuk, who has had just three shots on goal this series, away from Patrice Bergeron and instead against Krejci’s line, Babcock may very well go with Glendening against Bergeron’s line.
“Pavel will either play against [Bergeron] or Krejci,” Babcock said Tuesday morning. “It doesn’t matter as much to me; it matters more to me about the other match ups. Glendening will play against either one of those two and then we’ll have the other guys against the other guys.”
That’s a lot of faith to put in a first-year NHL player. Yet Glendening seemed to hold his own when he saw Krejci’s line in the first two games (he mostly played against Carl Soderberg‘s line and Gregory Campbell‘s line), but getting regular minutes against some of the best players in the NHL will be a major test.
Then again, he’s passed all his tests so far under the creative Babcock.
“Luke’s ultra-competitive, a skater, heavy — used to be a football player — loves the contact, loves being a greaseball,” Babcock said. “He plays hard, draws other guys into the battle and has a great hockey sense. Very competitive.”
Though Glendening is new to the NHL, he isn’t new to a lot of the Bruins’ players. He’s one of six players from Michigan playing in this series, and he played plenty of college hockey against Justin Florek (with whom he would briefly be teammates in Providence) and Krug.
“When you saw him in college, he would take over games,” Glendening said of Krug. “We played them a few times and it was the Torey Krug show. He was a great player there. I’m not surprised at all that he’s done so well for himself.”
Said Krug: “He’s just a guy you respect. He plays a 200-foot game, he’s a strong guy, you can’t underestimate him. He does everything well. There’s nothing he does poorly.”
As for what could have been with Boston, Glendening said that if he could do it all over again he might not have signed with any team at the end of his college career but instead waited until after the summer to reassess.
“Obviously, coming from college I didn’t really know what to expect of the pro game,” Glendening said. “I probably would say it wasn’t the best move on my part. I probably wasn’t ready. I probably needed a summer off before, just to prepare for what was coming. But it was a neat experience. I learned a lot. I guess it all worked out in the end.”
Babcock clearly has the utmost confidence in the 24-year-old, and as the series goes on his increasing role could either be potential mismatch on which the B’s could capitalize or a sign that Boston missed out on a pretty important player.