BRANDON, Fla. – Luke Glendening has all the necessary attributes that any NHL coach could ever want in a fourth-line grinding center.
He’s tenacious, abrasive, and finds way to get under the skin of most everyone he plays against. All of those traits were front and center in Thursday’s 3-2 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning in the opener of the best-of-seven Eastern Conference playoff series.
“The more guys like that you can have on your team the better chance you have to have success,” said coach Babcock, following the Wings’ Friday afternoon practice at the Ice Sports Forum in suburban Tampa.
While Glendening’s shorthanded, spin-o-rama goal stood as the Game 1 winner – earning accolades on ESPN as SportsCenter’s top play from Thursday – it was his relentless defense, particularly on the penalty kill that led to his goal that helped the Wings steal a win.
Glendening admitted Friday that the move he made on Lightning center Valtteri Filppula wasn’t anything fancy. “I was just out of gas actually so I didn’t have enough speed to get to the net so figured if I turned back, I might have a chance.”
Not blessed with overwhelming skill, Glendening approaches each game, each shift with an unselfishness that gives him a competitive edge when asked to play opposite some of the league’s top-line centers. His coaches and teammates trust that he can get the job done defensively, and it’s his continued development on the fourth line with Drew Miller and Landon Ferraro that gives guys like Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk one less thing to worry about.
“You know it used to be the case where you had to match Pav and Hank up against the other team’s top line,” defenseman Niklas Kronwall said. “Now it feels like Glennie with Millsie and Ferraro can go up against anybody. It gives the other guys rest and hopefully some room against the other lines.”
With 12 goals in the regular season, up from one in 2013-14, Glendening is showng some scoring touch. Zetterberg believes Glendening's growing confidence has allowed to score more this season.
"We’re not really surprised that he plays the way he is," the captain said. "He’s a hard-working guy off the ice and it’s
good to see that he gets rewarded with goals."
Though the Wings were badly outshot 46-14 in Game 1, the penalty kill did its job, holding the Lightning’s power play in check by shutting them out on seven man-advantages. A lot of that is because of the yeoman’s work done by Glendening, who logged a game-high 6:25 of shorthanded ice time.
“I thought (Petr) Mrazek was great, made big saves when he needed to,” Glendening said. “I thought our pressure was good. We still gotta clean some things up before our next game tomorrow but I thought it was a good start for us.”
It’s the most shorthanded ice time skated by a Detroit player since former defenseman Brad Stuart logged 7:21 of penalty-kill time in Game 2 of 2012 Western Conference quarterfinals against Nashville.
Unaware of his minutes from Game 1, Glendening said, “I’m just happy we won and whether I play five minutes or I play 18 minutes, I just wanna do my part.”
Glendening also finished Game 1 with three shots on goal, he blocked three shots – including a last-second bomb by Tampa Bay defenseman Victor Hedman – and he was quite busy in the face-off circle, winning 8-of-23 draws. Though he won only 35 percent, he took more draws than any player in Game 1 facing four different Lightning centers – Brian Boyle (4-for-9), Tyler Johnson (2-for-6), Filppula (1-for-5) and Steven Stamkos (1-for-3).
A prototypical, hardworking penalty killer, Glendening’s third-period goal marked the first time in his career that he scored a shorty. It was also his first game-winner in the postseason.
“Glennie, I don’t know if you can put into words how much he means to this club,” Kronwall said. “The work that he puts in, the effort that he puts in on and off the ice, in the room, he’s become a huge part of our team just the way he works and always puts the team first. He’s a guy that a lot of guys look up to and has been a huge part of our team not just on 5 on 5, he could go up against anybody, but probably one of the best penalty killers in the league as well.”
Center - DET
Goals: 2 | Assists: 0 | Pts: 2
Shots: 2 | +/-: 1
On Thursday, Datsyuk recorded his sixth career multi-goal playoff game and first since April 27, 2010. All six of his multi-goal postseason performances have been away from Joe Louis Arena and against different opponents – Tampa Bay (April 16, 2015); Phoenix (April 27, 2010); Nashville (April 16, 2008); Colorado (April 29, 2008); Dallas (May 12, 2008); and Anaheim (May 22, 2007).
Datsyuk’s second goal came on the power play at 0:08 of the second period. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, that set a Red Wings’ record for fastest goal to start any playoff period. The previous mark was 0:09 set by Gordie Howe in the first period of Game 5 of the 1954 Stanley Cup semifinals against Toronto goalie Harry Lumley.
The multi-goal game was the first by a Red Wings’ player since May 10, 2013 when Henrik Zetterberg scored in the third period, and again in overtime, lifting Detroit to a 4-3 win over the Ducks in Game 6 of the Western Conference quarterfinals.
Datsyuk has picked up in the postseason where he left off in the regular season. Overall, he is riding a four-game point streak, producing four goals and seven points, including three consecutive multi-point performances. His 65 points in 63 regular-season games placed him sixth in the league with an average of 1.03 points per game.
Goalie - DET
GAA: 2.00 | Sv%: .957
With Thursday’s Game 1 victory, Petr Mrazek
became the fifth Wings rookie – and third youngest – to win his playoff debut. He’s the first since Chris Osgood
posted a 4-0 victory in Game 2 of the 1994 Western Conference quarterfinals against San Jose.
“He was unbelievable yesterday,” Zetterberg said. “He has confidence. He knows he’s a good goalie. Now we’ve just got to restart and play a second game.”
The 23-year-old Mrazek made 44 saves, including 18 in the third period when the Lightning were throwing shot at him from every angle.
“They out-(transitioned) us, they out-shot us,” center Riley Sheahan said. “If we didn’t have Petr we wouldn’t have won. He’s confident in there and hopefully we can provide him with a little more help tomorrow.”
NOW THAT’S LOW: The Red Wings’ 14 shots in their Game 1 victory Thursday represents the franchise’s fewest shot totals in a playoff win since the league expanded in 1967-68.
Despite being outshot 46-14, the Wings managed to become the first team to win a postseason game in regulation with a minus-32 shot differential or more in five years. The last team to do so was the Montreal Canadiens, who were outshot 54-22 by Washington on April 26, 2010.
Since the 2003 postseason, Detroit has posted a 4-1 playoff record when held to under 21 shots on goal:
14 – Game 1 ECQ vs. Tampa Bay, April 16, 2015 (3-2 win)
17 – Game 2 WCQ vs. Nashville, April 13, 2012 (3-2 win)
19 – Game 1 WCQ vs. Anaheim, May 11, 2007 (2-1 win)
21 – Game 1 WCS vs. Chicago, May 15, 2013 (4-1 loss)
21 – Game 3 WCF vs. Dallas, May 12, 2008 (5-2 win)
RED WINGS NOTES: Forward Darren Helm’s two-assist night was his first career multi-point postseason performance. The 28-year-old speedster has produced 10 goals and 19 points in 71 career playoff games. … Defenseman Kyle Quincey was the only player in Game 1 with better than a plus-1 rating. He assisted on Datsyuk’s first goal and was on the ice for Glendening’s game winner. It’s the fifth time in 44 career playoff games that Quincey has recorded a plus rating, and his first plus-2.