I can't believe we're even discussing this, but it's time to talk about Luke Glendening and what exactly his role will be Friday night. Yes, Glendening has been a divisive player. Our own staff here at WIIM doesn't even totally agree over how good he is or isn't, and the same is true of the comment sections here. I'm not here to dredge up that argument, but I am starting to have a lot of doubt about what Jeff Blashill's opinion of Luke Glendening is right now.
The reason for this to pop up again is the lines at morning skate today. The diggers specifically reminded us not to read into them too much since Richards had to miss practice, which of course means we're going to ignore their sage advice and read into them. Here's the big one:
Glendening skating with Tatar and Nyquist, so there's no point reading into the lines. Andersson with Miller and Ferraro/Cleary.— Ansar Khan (@AnsarKhanMLive) October 5, 2015
This is innocent enough at first glance. Tatar-Richards-Nyquist has been a line used quite a few times in the preseason, so Glendening is obviously holding Richards place while Richards gets his Stanley Cup ring today. However, Glendening holding a place is hardly an isolated incident here. In fact, last year's end of season 4th line of Miller-Glendening-Ferraro has yet to appear even once in training camp or the preseason. In fact, Andersson has seemingly had a death grip on this 4C spot between Miller and Ferraro. A bunch of samples:
Red team lines: Abdelkader-Zetterberg-Nyquist Miller-Andersson-Ferraro Bertuzzi-Athanasiou-Mantha Hoggan-Nosek-Callahan— Ansar Khan (@AnsarKhanMLive) September 21, 2015
Based on the skate, Wings lines for tonight vs. Penguins: Franzen-Sheahan-Glendening Miele-Larkin-Pulkkinen Miller-Andersson-Ferraro More— Ansar Khan (@AnsarKhanMLive) September 24, 2015
Other lines: Bertuzzi-Athanasiou-Mantha Nastasiuk-Nosek-Callahan Miller-Andersson-Cleary— Ansar Khan (@AnsarKhanMLive) September 28, 2015
Lines: Jurco-Miele-Pulkkinen Mantha-Nosek-Glendening Bertuzzi-Athanasiou-Callahan Cleary-Andersson-Ferraro— Ansar Khan (@AnsarKhanMLive) October 3, 2015
I'm not cherry-picking either. I just pulled up Khan's timeline since the Red/White game and did a Ctrl+F for Andersson. I did the same thing for Glendening, and during this timeframe he centered Miller or Ferraro exactly 0 times. In fact, he was almost exclusively a winger during that time. It sure looks like Jeff Blashill has decided that Joakim Andersson is this team's 4C, which leaves Glendening to fight for one of the wing positions. Given the stability of the 4th line during this time, it's starting to look like top-9 wing or bust for Glendening.
With all this in mind, why is Glendening the guy tasked with holding a place in practice? That job is typically reserved for healthy scratches. Maybe because he's not going to be on any line on Friday. To illustrate this further, it seems the top-6 for Friday is set: Abdelkader-Z-Larkin, Tatar-Richards-Nyquist. That means that if the 4th line pattern from above holds steady, the 3rd line will be comprised of 3 of the following: Sheahan, Franzen, Jurco, Pulkkinen, Glendening.
So all this circles us back to the previously unthinkable question: is Luke Glendening the odd man out? Chime in below with your best guesses.