By Sean Hartnett
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The Rangers have a possession anchor in their lineup. Put Tanner Glass on any line, and that line is going to suffer.READ MORE: COVID Vaccine 'Mix-And-Match' Study Finds Moderna Booster After J&J Single-Shot Produced Major Increase In Antibodies
During Thursday’s 1-0 home defeat to the Montreal Canadiens, head coach Alain Vigneault shuffled his bottom two lines. Dominic Moore centered Carl Hagelin and Lee Stempniak on a new-look third line. Kevin Hayes slid to the fourth line between Glass and Jesper Fast.
You don’t need to have an appreciation for advanced statistics to understand why Glass drags down his linemates. Simply put, the Rangers’ possession and shot attempts take a nosedive when Glass is on the ice. In any zone, Glass has been a possession-deficient player.
Do you remember the old “The Simpsons” episode when Principal Skinner called Bart’s parents into his office to show them a 3D diagram of how Bart drags down the grades of classmates nearest to his seat? Yeah, that’s exactly what Glass does to the Rangers. He makes every teammate around him worse.
Last season, a key reason why the Rangers reached their first Stanley Cup Final since 1994 was because their fourth line of Moore, Brian Boyle and Derek Dorsett took on the burden of difficult defensive-zone assignments and performed exceptionally well.
For the majority of this season, Glass has skated on the fourth line on the left wing of Moore. When Glass is deployed in defensive-zone situations, it’s a recipe for disaster given his tendencies to not follow and not possess the puck.
Vigneault is a tremendously astute coach, but he has a blind spot when it comes to Glass. Having coached Glass for two seasons in Vancouver, Vigneault is a big believer in Glass’ rugged game.READ MORE: Supply Chain Issues: 'There Really Are Problems Everywhere,' Even For Small Companies
He has continued to accept Glass’ mistakes and shortcomings, but hasn’t tolerated the growing pains of 21-year-old forward J.T. Miller. Even when Miller puts in three solid performances in a row, one poor game will cause Vigneault to remove him from the lineup. At this stage of his career, it’s crucial for Miller to receive consistent playing time to aid his development.
For the most part, Miller has ironed out the defensive issues that once plagued his game and has provided spurts of offense. Considering Miller’s role has largely been as a bottom-six forward, 10 points (five goals, five assists) in 24 games is a solid point return.
The offensive potential is there. Not only is Miller a superior player to Glass, but a strong case can be made that he’s an upgrade over Lee Stempniak on the Rangers’ second power-play unit.
You know what you’re going to get with Glass in the lineup: puck-possession issues and absolutely zero offense. Through 33 games, Glass has zero goals and one assist. He’s not suddenly going to change his approach, either.
“My role hasn’t changed in seven years as a pro,” Glass said earlier this season. “It’s to be physical and be tough to play against up and down the wall, and be a good teammate. Playing within myself and within my game is what I’m good at. My role isn’t a tough one to figure out.”
The Rangers have suffered losses in four of the past five games in which Glass has suited up. That isn’t a coincidence. Unequivocally, his presence in the lineup hurts the Rangers.MORE NEWS: Woman In Critical Condition After Being Struck By Sanitation Truck In Dyker Heights, Brooklyn
Follow Sean on Twitter @HartnettHockey.