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Montreal Canadiens defenseman P.K. Subban celebrates a goal.
There’s always been a high risk-reward element in defenseman P.K. Subban’s game, but it’s been especially evident this season. The reigning Norris Memorial Trophy winner has indeed been the biggest difference-maker for the Habs so far, but that hasn’t necessarily been a good thing.
With six points in four games, Subban has been a huge factor in Montreal’s two wins. He had three assists in Montreal’s 4-1 win over Edmonton. He also had a helper in the team’s 4-1 win over the Philadelphia Flyers.
He also almost singlehandedly got the Habs back in their eventual 3-2 loss to the Calgary Flame in which they faced a three-goal deficit. He first got them on the board at the end of the second period and, then, banking a shot from the point off the end boards directly to Eller, helped pull the team within one.
Then, however, his trademark indiscipline got the best of him.
Already having taken one penalty in the third period, Subban cross-checked Lance Bouma four consecutive times with under less than two minutes to go and without the puck in the immediate vicinity. Shorthanded and with their most dynamic defenseman put in the box, the Habs were understandably unable to tie the game.
Montreal as a result suffered a humiliating defeat to a team whose best player is an injured Michael Cammalleri and starting goalie is a journeyman backup. Just as amazingly, Subban proved to be Montreal’s best player and arguable reason for the defeat all at once. But, then again, no one ever really doubted the fact that he has incredible talent.
Whereas Emelin is primarily a defensive defenseman and a guy like Pacioretty has the greatest success in the offensive zone, Subban is critical to the Habs at both ends of the ice and even manages to add in some physicality now and then. As such he represents the best of both worlds for the Habs, but sometimes those worlds look like they’re needlessly crashing into one another.
Subban is as much of a game-breaker as anyone else in the league. It depends on the game, though.
If fans are looking at more games like the Edmonton one, Subban will be a good bet to win the Norris again. If there are more games like the Calgary one, though, regardless of the amount of points he scores, Montreal will end up out of the playoffs. Whether or not he’s even in the running for the Norris then won’t matter.
I will be appearing on Montreal Hockey Talk's The Franchise this coming Sunday, October 13. Feel free to tune in to the show from 8-10 am and hear me discuss the Canadiens and hockey in general with hosts Nick Murdocco and Gary Whittaker during the Sunday Shinny segment starting at 9 am. Looking forward to receiving your calls!