Cody Glass has had an interesting month. It started with him getting benched for much of the third period against the St. Louis Blues back on October 27th. Prior to the next game, Predators Head Coach John Hynes had this to say:
Glass trying to avoid mistakes
It’s an interesting way to put things, but it’s a bit misleading. If a player is trying to avoid making a mistake, shouldn’t that be good? In this case, however, Hynes is saying that Glass was overthinking things. When hockey players are accused of “thinking”, what they’re really being accused of is playing a reactive game. Instead of taking command of the game and setting the pace of the game, they’re allowing their opposition (or even other factors) to dictate what’s going on on the ice. You’ve heard Hynes refer to Matt Duchene being at his best when he plays with pace, that’s the same thing here.
When a good hockey player is playing with pace or even playing without thinking, it’s simply a way of saying that they’re allowing all of their training and skill to take over and allow them to control the game. There are a variety of factors that go into this. In the recent case of Duchene, it was about the team around him creating enough space for him by making clean passes and smooth transitions. The same can be said of Cody Glass. The biggest difference between the two players, of course, is the personnel they’re surround by.
That seems to be where the two schools of thought diverge. On one side, fans seem to think Glass would fare better on the ice with more highly skilled teammates. On the other side, Hynes and his staff seem to feel like Glass needs to make the most out of his opportunities on the ice, regardless of who’s out there with him.
Hockey is all about quick thinking and decision making–and those decisions have to be made in a split-second while skating and depend on hundreds of factors that are also changing with each passing fraction of a second. The real difference between the fans and the coach is that Hynes has backstage access. What happens backstage is where the real work is done.
Consider this, even though a hockey game takes around two and a half hours from start to finish, there are, at best, only 65 minutes of actual play. This season, the most time Cody Glass has spent on the ice is 14:30. Most of that time was spent at full strength, meaning he shared possession with 11 other players. That means he only touched the puck a handful of times. In one one-hour practice, Glass probably gets more time with the puck than he’s had in all eleven of the games he’s played this season. The real development happens away from the TV cameras and the watching eyes of the citizens of Smashville.
After Hynes made the comments above, Glass played that night against Washington. Glass had time on the power play and managed 2 shots on goal. The result was a 3-0 shutout loss for the team, but it was also the last time Glass would play for awhile. Glass was a healthy scratch against Edmonton, Calgary, Vancouver, and Seattle. He did make a return against Colorado and managed to net an assist while playing less than ten minutes. And then, back to the bench. Glass was a healthy scratch for the first three games of the Predators homestand against the Rangers, Wild, and Islanders.
Return to the lineup
However, Glass was in the lineup for the game against Tampa Bay. However, that start was on the 4th line, centering Cole Smith and Eeli Tolvanen. Hynes comments back before the game against Washington made it seem like they felt Glass would be a top-6 forward on the team. Yet, here was on the 4th line. This is where that divergence happens once again. Fans wonder how Glass, if he’s being assessed based on his time on the ice during a game, is being set up for success if he’s playing on the 4th line. However, Glass played what many call “sheltered” minutes. The goal, I believe, of playing Glass on the 4th line was to keep him limited and allow him to show that what he’d been working on and showing in practice would translate to a game. Despite another sub-ten minute night, Glass looked solid and in command. It earned him the next game.
Glass started in the next game against Arizona. This time, he was on the 3rd line, centering Zach Sanford and Tanner Jeannot. His move to the third line gave him more time and he had nearly three minutes of time on the power play. Getting time on the power play is a sure sign that he’s gaining John Hynes’ trust offensively. But the more exciting part of the night came after the teams went to the shootout. After making it to the 7th round, Glass got the call to hit the ice and make his attempt on former Milwaukee and Nashville teammate, goaltender Connor Ingram. Playing to his familiarity with Ingram, Glass was able to get the puck into the net. The Coyotes were unable to respond, sealing the victory for Nashville.
After the game, Glass commented, “I’m trying to [find my game]. I’m talking with coaches. I don’t want to be sitting; I want to be playing. It’s kind of hard watching from the stands so I’m trying to do the best I can when I’m in the lineup and trying to give our team the best chance to win.”
Later, Hynes gave his current take on Glass, “It was nice to see him get in there. I thought Cody has come in and played pretty well the last couple of games. He’s a skilled player and we had an opportunity to put him in the shootout. I’m really glad for him. He works and we’re trying to work with him to continue to get his game going. There’s lots of potential there. For him getting that situation and getting rewarded for it always helps an offensive guy’s mindset.”
While Hynes didn’t mention where he saw Glass playing in the future, it’s important to note that his big takeaway was that the young forward was able to come away with some confidence. Confidence is exactly what Glass needs to stop him from playing like he’s not trying to make mistakes. Once he does that, he should be a mainstay in this Predators lineup.
–featured image via Christopher Hanewinckel/USA TODAY Sports–