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Hartnett: Tanner Glass Has Modified His Game To Become Valuable Fourth Liner

By Sean Hartnett
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Say hello to Tanner Glass 2.0. Since his December 2 recall, the rugged 32-year-old winger has played with increased levels of efficiency and intelligence.

Glass has come a long way from the player who was a healthy scratch for five of the first seven games of 2015-16 and spent a 17-game spell in the minors. He's now become a mainstay in Alain Vigneault's lineup and hasn't been scratched since his return from Hartford.

There has been a change in his mindset. Glass has modified his game. He's now playing with a controlled fire and with an emphasis on possession.

"It's kind of a change in focus to maybe a more possession-based game," Glass told earlier this month. "In the summer, I worked on hanging onto the puck a little more and trying to make sure that when it leaves my stick it's going into a good area where I can get a good forecheck and get it back, or it's going to one of my teammates."

On Wednesday night in Tampa, Glass and fellow fourth liners Dominic Moore and Viktor Stalberg were trusted to protect a 3-2 lead after Moore and Stalberg combined for a go-ahead goal at 3:16 of the third period. Stalberg hounded Anton Stralman behind the Lightning net and Glass came in for a heavy hit – forcing a turnover onto Stalberg's stick. The Swede fed Moore, who scored a fancy goal on Ben Bishop.

Stalberg and Rick Nash chipped in empty netters, making the 5-2 final score deceiving to those who didn't watch the game live. The fourth line played a big role in stamping out a tight victory in a tough road building.

Glass finished the night with a career-high plus-three rating and was tied for a game-high four hits in 9:53 TOI. One of the highlights was sending 6-foot-7 former Ranger Brian Boyle into the Blueshirts' bench. Penalizing Glass for interference on the hit wasn't a debatable call, as Boyle did not touch the puck. Glass did admit to reporters in Tampa that he thought it was a penalty, and he would throw the hit 10 times out of 10.

He led all Rangers forwards with a 57.14 Corsi For percentage in five-on-five situations. Any way you cut it -- traditional statistics, advanced statistics, the good ol' eye test and ideally a combination of all three --Glass is giving the Rangers effective minutes.

But he isn't putting a lot of stock into advanced statistics. Glass relies on his own feel and the feedback he receives from the coaching staff and teammates.

"I think you can tell how you play from your coaching staff, your teammates and how you feel," Glass said. "Sometimes, it doesn't correlate with that kind of stat – but sometimes it does. It's not something I pay attention to, nor do I care to.

"There's always stuff to work on. There are ups and downs in games. There's always going to be situations where you wish you were better at, or did differently, and situations where you're happy with. It's a work in progress, it's a long season. I'm going to continue working towards being good every night."

Glass certainty played a big part in a big win in Tampa. If he continues playing this way, he's going to win over his doubters and critics.

Follow Sean on Twitter @HartnettHockey

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