Heading into this season, the Pittsburgh Penguins were confused as to who the last trio of skaters would eventually fill-out the rest of their lineup.
With forward Craig Adams the only lock to play on the fourth-line, Pittsburgh signed various players to compete for those final two spots.
Little did they know, the skaters that would ultimately take the last two slots were on the roster all along.
Tanner Glass and Joe Vitale, who both played for the team last season, didn’t necessarily solidify their roles as fourth-liners; however, because forward Dustin Jeffrey is struggling and Matt D’Agostini is on the shelf with a lower-body injury, they’ve shown the organization they’re worthy enough to stick on the fourth-line for the entire year.
The line of Adams, Glass, and Vitale have without a doubt produced more scoring than the team probably would have anticipated.
Combining for a total of eight points (4G, 4A) through Pittsburgh’s first five contests, the trio have registered nearly half the points they compiled in the full 48-games last season. Scoring a total of 17 points (6G, 11A) together in the 2012-13 campaign, Pittsburgh has to be overwhelmed with their contributions at this stage of the season.
Adams, who hasn’t scored more than ten goals in a single-season, has three goals in five games for Pittsburgh, and is on track to at least top his career mark for tallies this campaign. While his role is to specifically log minutes on the penalty-kill, his fast offensive start gives him a chance to put up numbers better than expected.
Glass scored one goal all of last season, and it didn’t come until one of the final games — not to mention he only put up two points (1G, 1A) in 48-contests. But in the five games he’s played in this season, Glass has already recorded more points (3) and has scored a goal.
Becoming an on-and-off scratch in the 2013 postseason, Glass has taken advantage of his playing time this season, and has seemed to be clicking more since he was able to have a training camp with the team this year. Although it’s too early to speculate his production to continue, it’s nice to see him get off to valiant start to the season.
Vitale was another player who was scratched sporadically in the 2012-13 campaign.
Playing in 33 regular-season games, Vitale registered a lowly five points (2G, 3A) and was an afterthought once the playoffs started. In the four contests he’s skated in this season, he’s dished out two helpers, which is already two-fifths of the points he posted last season.
Despite the uncertainty as to if these three will play the full 82-games this year, their presence in the lineup has not gone unnoticed. And even though the team will most likely sit them once in a while, it’s comfortable to know that they’re able to handle their own when they to dress.
As of right now, the three have played a sound game all around, and are exceeding tremendously on the back-end for Pittsburgh.
Let’s see if the trio can continue their excellent performance when the team plays the Edmonton Oilers, Tuesday, in Pittsburgh.
Game can be seen on the ROOT network, and is set to start at 7 p.m.