Editorials

Chicago Blackhawks’ Jeff Glass Sees Best Chance At Starting Tonight

By Colin Likas
Mar 3, 2017; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford (50) makes a save during the overtime period against the New York Islanders at the United Center. Chicago won 2-1 in a shoot out. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 3, 2017; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford (50) makes a save during the overtime period against the New York Islanders at the United Center. Chicago won 2-1 in a shoot out. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports /
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We haven’t seen any of Jeff Glass since the Chicago Blackhawks called him up to back up Corey Crawford in goal, but there’s an outside chance that could change tonight

When Chicago Blackhawks backup goaltender Scott Darling went down with a hand injury in a practice last week, the Blackhawks responded by calling up the fast-rising Jeff Glass from Rockford.

While there was little chance Glass would see much, if any, playing time behind incumbent starter Corey Crawford, it’s always good to have backup. However, I think tonight offers what may be the lone chance for Glass to net a start this season.

After playing last night against the Anaheim Ducks and falling 1-0 despite carrying play, the Blackhawks travel to Joe Louis Arena for the final time tonight to take on the Detroit Red Wings. Now, in the past, talking about a backup goaltender starting against the Wings was suicidal. But this season? Not so much.

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The Wings are an absolute disaster. They’ve lost three straight games, sit in last place in the Eastern Conference with 61 points in 65 games (the Blackhawks have 89 in 66, for reference), and are coming off a 6-1 defeat at the hands of Boston earlier this week.

Crow probably doesn’t need the break after having four days off prior to last night’s tilt against the Ducks, and I’m not necessarily advocating for Glass to start this game against Detroit. But I could see it happening.

Eye on the present and future

While the Blackhawks are certainly in a race for the Central Division and Western Conference lead, this is a game they should easily take down regardless of who they have in net.

The Wings are led by Henrik Zetterberg‘s 53 points, but their next highest point producer is youngster Anthony Mantha with 33 — and he’s reportedly a healthy scratch for this contest for reasons only Joel Quenneville could appreciate.

Their defense is in shambles, and goaltender Jimmy Howard was recently recalled from the AHL to bail out what has been a horrible netminding duo of Petr Mrazek and Jared Coreau. In short, the Wings are not used to losing this much and this badly and have no idea what to do about it.

Chicago Blackhawks

So with the opponent in disarray, the Blackhawks should be able to feast, especially considering they couldn’t get one of 43 shots past Jonathan Bernier last night.

It could be the perfect time to drop Glass in a game. You’ve got a major stretch of action coming up — the Blackhawks play every other day, at least, through the end of the regular season — so why not give Crow an extra day when it seems reasonable? And why not give yourself a look at the future as well?

Glass could be the Blackhawks’ next backup goaltender. Crow isn’t going anywhere, and Darling will likely command too much money for the Blackhawks’ liking this offseason (though recent salary cap projections may change that), and he may want to start moving forward. Glass could be in the big leagues at the start of the 2017-18 season.

Coach Q might just look at the schedule and say, “Why not?” The team would conceivably step up to the plate in front of Glass, as the Blackhawks did with Darling when he was seeing some of his first NHL action (you can’t say you didn’t notice a difference, at times, between the way the Blackhawks played in front of Crow and Darling).

Really, the Blackhawks shouldn’t have trouble winning this game regardless of who’s in net for them. And outside of the March 19 tilt against Colorado — also on the back end of a back-to-back — I don’t see any other time Glass might get action barring a blowout. And Darling could be back with the team by that date.

A little more about Glass

Again, I’m not necessarily advocating for Glass to start tonight. I just think it would be interesting and something Coach Q might consider, while also having little chance of costing the team in the short run.

Many fans are probably not familiar with Glass, who made a sudden rise from the KHL level to the AHL, and now the NHL (by way of injury). Glass, 31, had spent the 2009-10 through 2015-16 seasons with various Russian teams before joining Toronto’s AHL squad earlier this season.

Toronto released him in early January, and Glass quickly signed with Rockford for more AHL action. In the midst of posting a .910/2.62 statline in 13 games for the IceHogs, the Blackhawks signed him to a two-way contract in late February. He was then called up when Darling got hurt.

Glass was drafted by Ottawa in 2004 but never made the NHL level. He may or may not have what it takes to play at hockey’s highest level, but the Blackhawks seem interested in trying to figure out if he does or not.

The time for that may come during training camp in the next offseason, as the Blackhawks are indeed in the midst of a race for the Western Conference’s top overall seed. Even against the lowly Red Wings, Glass may be considered too much of a liability right now.

Next: 5 Thoughts From Shutout Loss To Anaheim

But at the same time, maybe Q is interested to see what he has in his backup, and maybe he’d like Crow to get an extra day of rest. I would expect Crow to get the call in net again tonight, but I wouldn’t totally shut down the chance of Glass getting a run tonight.

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