Habs’ Subban looking like a $72-million man

 

 
 
 
 
Canadiens’ P.K. Subban scores against Avalanche goaltender Calvin Pickard during second period NHL hockey action in Montreal, Saturday, October 18, 2014.
 

Canadiens’ P.K. Subban scores against Avalanche goaltender Calvin Pickard during second period NHL hockey action in Montreal, Saturday, October 18, 2014.

Photograph by: Graham Hughes, THE CANADIAN PRESS

More on This Story

 

One jersey at a time, the Canadiens are recouping their $72-million investment in defenceman P.K. Subban.

Expect many, many No. 76 Subbans, at a couple of hundred bucks a pop, to be snapped up by fans based purely on the defenceman’s two jaw-dropping goals this month.

The latest came Saturday in the Habs’ 3-2 Bell Centre win over Patrick Roy’s Colorado Avalanche, two weeks to the day after Subban had electrified the arena with his around-the-world masterpiece against the Ottawa Senators.

Subban was tagged for a holding penalty late in Saturday’s second period, having clutched Colorado centreman Nathan MacKinnon in the Canadiens corner.

“He’s a horse out there, you’ve got to throw the reins on him sometimes,” Subban would say, from beneath a Canadiens tuque, of the young Avalanche star. “I probably threw too tight of a rein on him in the corner.”

Colorado, trailing 2-1, managed two shots on the goal on their power play, defenceman Tom Gilbert blocking a third attempt, and then Subban stormed out of the penalty box, racing after a defensive-zone clearance banked off the boards by teammate Lars Eller.

Subban caught up to the puck at the Avalanche goal line to the right of netminder Calvin Pickard, outlegging defenceman Tyson Barrie. And then, with Barrie falling into the goalpost, Subban swept behind the net and back in front, eyed the rushing Eller, who by now was covered by Avs defenceman Nick Holden, before plowing back toward Pickard to execute a forehand-backhand-forehand deke and bury the shot at close range.

If Subban’s celebration in the tumult of the Bell Centre was that of a kid who had just scored a pond-hockey winner, he later spoke of the goal very much as a self-critical adult.

“I was still ticked off that I took a stupid penalty,” he said of his thoughts as he roared back onto the ice, his minor served. “Taking penalties every game, it’s fine now, we’re winning. But I’ve got to stay out of the box.

“It’s great to get the goal, but (doing) one thing wrong and one right, it doesn’t kind of even out. If you’re going to be a leader on the team, you’ve got to set the example. I haven’t done a good job of that.”

Subban was being a trifle hard on himself about his claim that he’s taking penalties every game. He was crime-free in the season opener in Toronto, after all, though opponents have scored during two of his seven minors taken in five subsequent games.

The 25-year-old was equally dazzling if less flamboyant with his first goal Saturday, a power-play, speed-of-light rocket whose ridiculous power might even have impressed Pickard, had he seen it.

“I’m not used to being in that tight on the goalie,” Subban said of his rafters-rattling second goal. “I see (Alex) Galchenyuk do that move a lot in practice so I don’t know, maybe that’s where I got it from.”

Indeed, Galchenyuk had a jailbreak goal of his own Saturday, leaping back into the play and taking a deft blue-line pass from Brandon Prust to be sent in to score after some wonderful stickhandling.

“As soon as I turned around the net, I was looking for Lars, I knew he was coming,” Subban said. “I looked for him right away and the defenceman had taken him out. I was just in really tight with the goalie, so I tried to make a move and hopefully he bit on it. Before I knew it I had an open net so I just put it in.

“But I probably don’t want to be putting myself in a position of being in the box that many times. I don’t want to be praying to score goals coming out of the penalty box.”

Subban said he simply tries “to take what they give me and I had a fortunate bounce where (Barrie) tripped over the net.

“To be honest, I had no intention of shooting the puck when I came around the net, I was looking for Lars. When you think like that, sometimes good things happen. I’m always trying to find my teammates out there.”

This was Subban’s second penalty-box-busting goal in as many playing months, his first coming on May 6 in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference semifinals against Boston.

That one wasn’t as fancy as Saturday’s, though it was more dramatic given the playoff setting. It again was Eller, absorbing a neutral-zone check, to make the feed that night, Subban racing in to beat Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask with a straight-line deke.

Not since the season-opener against the Maple Leafs have the Canadiens been first on the scoreboard. And yet, they’re finding ways to claw back into games, now sitting at 5-1 with the Red Wings and Rangers coming to town this week.

“It’s not about scoring first, it’s about generating momentum and hopefully that leads to having success early in the game,” Subban said. “For us, it’s about doing the right things and I think we play the right way. We’re moving pucks up and we’re hard on each other.

“We’re holding each other accountable. We come in the room and when guys are taking penalties, guys are telling me and I’m telling guys, ‘Let’s be disciplined, let’s make sure we get pucks in and pucks out.’

“That’s a good thing about a team — when you have that accountability, you’re going to go far.”

Subban is encouraged that three of the Canadiens’ five wins came during a four-game road trip to begin the campaign.

“That was a big thing for us, going on the road, playing such good hockey,” he said. “It’s all about mental toughness and focus. On the road, you’re in a hotel, the food’s maybe not the greatest, maybe you’re not sleeping, you’re getting in late, you’re on a bus … those things can have an effect on the outcome of a game.

“But we didn’t let that affect us. We’ve had a good start but our mindset is where it needs to be and that needs to continue. …

“We’re playing the right way. When we’re not, we know we don’t have a chance to win. We play hard and people don’t like it.”

Presumably Subban was talking about the opposition because Canadiens fans, their fever absurdly high for October, seem to be enjoying things just fine.

dstubbs@montrealgazette.com

Twitter: Dave_Stubbs

 
 
 
Font:
 
 
 
 
Canadiens’ P.K. Subban scores against Avalanche goaltender Calvin Pickard during second period NHL hockey action in Montreal, Saturday, October 18, 2014.
 

Canadiens’ P.K. Subban scores against Avalanche goaltender Calvin Pickard during second period NHL hockey action in Montreal, Saturday, October 18, 2014.

Photograph by: Graham Hughes, THE CANADIAN PRESS

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
We encourage all readers to share their views on our articles and blog posts. We are committed to maintaining a lively but civil forum for discussion, so we ask you to avoid personal attacks, and please keep your comments relevant and respectful. If you encounter a comment that is abusive, click the "X" in the upper right corner of the comment box to report spam or abuse. We are using Facebook commenting. Visit our FAQ page for more information.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Your voice