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Jeff Glass lived his long-awaited dream on Friday

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Jeff Glass couldn’t wipe the smile off his face after his NHL debut as a member of the Chicago Blackhawks on Friday.

And that’s pretty understandable given where he’s been.

Glass burst onto the scene in the lead up to the 2005 World Junior Championships. He was named Canada’s starting goaltender for that tournament and didn’t disappoint.

Glass did exactly what he was tasked to do, winning all five of the games he played in, including the gold medal game and restored his country back to the summit of junior hockey for the first time since 1997.

The team was full of what would become NHL greats Sidney Crosby, Patrice Bergeron, Shea Weber and Ryan Getzlaf all suited up for Canada that year on a team that has the unofficial moniker of Canada’s best ever sent to the world junior tournament.

He was roommates during the tournament with Blackhawks teammate Brent Seabrook.

But while many of his teammates headed directly to the NHL and onto several Stanley Cups and a myriad of other accolades, Glass took a route that took him to the opposites ends of the earth.

“There were a few bleak moments where I didn’t believe it could happen,” Glass told Sportsnet after Friday’s game in Edmonton, just a few hours north of his childhood home in Calgary.

He once played in Siberia, where he told Sportsnet it snowed for 45 days straight. He toiled in the AHL, the ECHL and the KHL for years since being drafted 89th overall by the Ottawa Senators in 2005. He was most recently with the Rockford IceHogs of the American Hockey League, and after an injury to Corey Crawford, was recalled on Wednesday after Crawford was put on injured reserve.

Glass’ journey is a tale of hard work, sticking to it, and waiting for his time to come — all cliches we often take for granted in the sports world. Glass is living proof and a testament that dreams are never dead, just sometimes delayed.

At 32 years old (and 40 days), Glass, according to the Elias Sports Bureau, Glass (32 years, 40 days) became the second-oldest goaltender since 1967 to earn a win in his NHL debut.

He stopped 42 shots in a 4-3 win over the Edmonton Oilers, a game he found out he was starting in at 2 a.m. that morning when the team touched down in Edmonton.

And now he holds saves over arguably the best player in the world, including this welcome-to-the-NHL moment in the first period. He was named, fittingly and deservedly, the game’s first star.

His parents, his wife, and his two-month-old daughter were able to get to the game he never thought would come.

“It’ something I’ve always dreamed of,” Glass said after the game.

It’s a journey, Glass said, that he wouldn’t trade for the world.

“Not for a second, I would not,” he said. “The experience I had overseas was great. On the ice, off the ice, I matured as a person. It really taught me a lot about what’s important to me and what I valued. Where I wanted to be. After spending so much time over there I really wanted to give this one more shot. To prove to myself if I could do it. If there was still something there.”

There was.

And when the Blackhawks take on his hometown Calgary Flames on Sunday, it’s a pretty safe bet that Glass will make start No. 2.

There’s no question that he’s earned it.


Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck

Blackhawks turn to Sharp – Toews – Kane amid scoring struggles

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When you’re stumped to find a solution, sometimes it pays off to see what worked before.

The Chicago Blackhawks are going with that strategy amid some scoring struggles, as NBC Sports Chicago’s Tracey Myers and others note that Joel Quenneville is reuniting a line that may inspire Blackhawks nostalgia: Patrick SharpJonathan ToewsPatrick Kane.

Some would call it going retro. Others prefer “going nuclear.”

“Right now we haven’t had the team scoring so we’re trying to get that first and maybe things will look on balance as we’re going along. But I feel if they can score and other lines can score, maybe there’s balance that way, too,” Quenneville said, via Myers. “We’re just looking at any way right now to recapture what it’s like to score because we know it’s there.”

With Brandon Saad managing one assist in his last nine games after a red-hot start to his second run with Chicago, it makes sense to shake things up, especially with the Blackhawks struggling to score at even-strength.

While there are concerns with loading up by putting Toews and Kane together rather than going with the usual plan of asking them to carry their own lines, Saad helps tie things together on a passable second trio:

Putting Saad with Artem Anisimov and Richard Panik could work, maybe.

Sharp might be the forward in the greatest need of a boost. The 35-year-old hasn’t scored a point in his last nine games and only has a goal to show for his last 11.

The Blackhawks could certainly benefit from a bump in energy and creativity, as their schedule is on the more challenging side beginning with tonight’s game against the Flyers in Philly. Take a look at the upcoming stretch:

Thu, Nov 9 @ Philadelphia
Sat, Nov 11 @ Carolina
Sun, Nov 12 vs New Jersey
Wed, Nov 15 vs NY Rangers
Sat, Nov 18 @ Pittsburgh
Wed, Nov 22 @ Tampa Bay
Sat, Nov 25 @ Florida

That’s a difficult weekend, not to mention a run of five of seven games on the road. At 7-6-2, the Blackhawks are currently in the running for a wildcard spot in the West, an experience that remains a bit foreign to this proud group (even if prognosticators have been forecasting such a regression for years now).

It’s not clear how long the Blackhawks would roll with this combination – Coach Q has made it pretty clear that he’d rather diversify his offensive threats – but it might help shake things up. If you enjoy watching those three work together, tonight’s your night.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

Saad, Jackets working on an extension ‘as we speak’

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The Columbus Blue Jackets are wasting little time trying to get newly acquired forward Brandon Saad inked to a new deal.

Jackets’ GM Jarmo Kekalainen told reporters on a conference call that they were working on an extension with Saad “as we speak”.

According to Aaron Portzline of the Columbus Dispatch, Saad’s agent Lewis Gross hopes to have a long-term extension signed tonight.

Saad’s three-year, $2.8 million entry-level deal expires tomorrow making him a restricted free agent.

Kekalainen also told reporters that an offer sheet on Saad prior to the trade was “not in our plans”.

Saad scored career-high 23 goals and 52 points in 82 regular season games with the Blackhawks. He added 11 points in 23 playoff games winning his second Stanley Cup.

As for where Saad fits in amongst the Jackets’ forward group, Kekalainen feels he’s a “very good candidate” to play on Ryan Johansen’s line next season.

According to Generalfanager.com, the Blue Jackets currently have $13.4 million in cap space to work with heading into free agency.

Related: Bowman on negotiations with Saad: ‘I don’t think we ever came close’

Video: Andersen makes an incredible stick save

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Blackhawks’ sniper Patrick Kane had the game’s first quality scoring chance early in the first period.

The 26-year-old, who has seven goals and 13 points in 10 playoff games, capitalized on a Ryan Getzlaf turnover, but Frederik Andersen bailed his captain out with an incredible stick save.

Have a look:

Hampus Lindholm has since given the Ducks a 1-0 lead with his second goal of the playoffs.

Crawford was ‘a little pissed off at first’ with Darling starting

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With Scott Darling making his fourth straight start tonight when the Blackhawks play host to the Nashville Predators in Game 6, Corey Crawford was asked how he’s dealing with the situation.

“(I was) a little pissed off at first,” he told Chicago Sun-Times reporter Mark Lazerus. “It’s only natural. I think that’s a good thing. It shows I want to play.

“We’re up in the series, so life’s good.”

Crawford allowed three goals on 12 shots and was replaced by Darling in Game 1. Darling made 42 saves in the double-overtime victory. Crawford then started Game 2 and made 29 saves in a 6-2 loss.

The 30-year-old is 0-1 with a 6.75 G.A.A. and an .809 save percentage.

“Crow’s a good guy, a good teammate, a good pro,” said Joel Quenneville. “I’m sure he wants to play in the worst way.”

Darling is 3-1 in the series to go along with a 1.73 G.A.A. and a .950 save percentage.