DETROIT – An efficient fourth-line center and penalty killer appearing in every game this season for the Red Wings, Luke Glendening proved to be an important role player in the lineup after a career-best season.
As a rookie in 2013-14, it took Glendening 51 games to record his first-career goal, but in his second season, the 25-year-old wouldn’t be as patient.
In just the second game of the regular season, on Oct. 11, Glendening scored with a backhand shot that squeaked past Anaheim goalie Frederik Anderson. That goal got Glendening started on the right foot, propelling him to a career-high 12 goals.
“I think it’s getting more comfortable, I thought I had some chances last year to score and it just didn’t go in,” Glendening said. “This year it’s found the back of the net a little bit more but I think as I’ve gotten more comfortable, I’ve been playing a little better.”
Skating as a high-energy fourth-line center, Glendening spent a significant amount of ice time alongside linemate and fellow penalty killer Drew Miller.
With lockers side-by-side in the Wings’ dressing room, Miller, a Michigan State University alumnus, has gotten to know Glendening, a University of Michigan alumnus, quite well during his time in Detroit.
“He’s a guy I’ve played with a lot this year and a lot last year towards the end of the season,” Miller said. “We’re getting to know each other pretty well and obviously, we’re penalty-kill partners, he works hard, he brings it every day. So that’s something that you can count on from him as a linemate, and the guys in the locker room and the coaches do the same, count on him to bring it.”
While the two teammates never played at rival universities at the same time – Miller left the Spartans in 2006 while Glendening arrived as a Wolverine in 2008 – they do share a common connection to college hockey and the intense history between their former schools.
In addition to his goal total, the Grand Rapids, Michigan, native reached new heights in points with 18, more than doubling his previous season total of seven. The 5-foot-11, 194-pound Glendening also scored his first-career power-play goal in a 4-2 win over the Edmonton Oilers.
After winning just 48.5 percent of his faceoff attempts last season, Glendening re-tooled his approach in the offseason to improve in the faceoff circle. In 2014-15, he improved those numbers to 51.9 percent, becoming a dependable source on the draw, which allowed him to match up against some of the opponents’ top centers. Finishing with a plus-5 rating, Glendening’s commitment in the faceoff circle and strong defensive effort earned him a significant role against top opponents.
“He’s having a good year, he’s scored some big goals for us and playing some big minutes against some tough opponents,” Miller said. “Obviously when you can do more than one thing, you get a little bit more ice time and the coaches count on you to play a little bit more. Good for him, and I could see him getting a lot more opportunities to play more and hopefully score more for our team.”
Being a constant in the lineup, Glendening had opportunities to contribute and expand his role. Still quite young in his development as a hockey player, Glendening has made strides to improve and is forming into a well-rounded, versatile center despite having played in only 138 regular-season games in two seasons.