P.K. Subban has turned a new leaf in his career. Formerly known as an undisciplined defenseman who lost his cool when things didn’t go his way, Subban has proven to his coaches, teammates, and to the rest of the league that he is no longer that player. Now he is showing us that he is a player who can be counted on in big moments, and can be trusted not to take an unfortunate penalty. Subban has always had the talent needed to become a number one defenseman in the NHL, and now he is proving that he also has the character needed to be successful in this league. The Montreal Canadiens are heading to the Eastern Conference Finals to take on the New York Rangers, and it could be argued that they wouldn’t be in the final four if it weren’t for Subban, who had 4 goals and 7 points in round 2, as well as 12 points in 11 games this postseason.
P.K. Subban has gotten better with every game he’s played this postseason, which is why his coaches relied on him heavily during game 7. Subban rewarded them for their faith in him by making a good physical play against Bruins forward Brad Marchand just seconds into the game. Montreal dominated the 1st period, and it was the Habs who opened up the scoring when Dale Weise took advantage of a defensive breakdown for Boston and a great pass from Daniel Briere at 2:18. The Bruins had a hard time getting into the offensive zone throughout the 1st period, and whenever they did it seemed like the Canadiens always squashed the scoring chance before it could even develop. The fact that the Bruins took 3 penalties in the first period didn’t help them out either. P.K. Subban was all over the ice on the powerplay all night long, and he was impressive. Subban’s teammates know how hard his shot from the point is, so they were feeding him all game long, and he wanted to shoot the puck as much as he could, getting off two shots in the first 30 seconds of Montreal’s first powerplay, though both shots were blocked. Subban stayed out for the entire powerplay, and was on the ice for more than one minute on each of the Canadiens’ next two man advantages. He was out for nearly half of the 1st period, playing 9:56, which led both teams after 20 minutes of play.
The Bruins came out strong in the 2nd, and Subban showed us how versatile he is by playing well in his own end while Boston applied offensive pressure for the first half of the period. He made it hard for Boston to play their dump-and-chase style, as every time the Bruins got the puck in deep, Subban got to it before anyone else could and got it out of his zone without icing it, preventing many more scoring chances for Boston. Mid-way through the period, Montreal found a way to create some sustained offensive pressure and they had the Bruins on their heels. Subban made a good pinch at one point to keep the puck in the offensive zone, and a few moments later the puck was in the back of the net off of Max Pacioretty‘s stick at 10:28. Subban stayed on the ice after the goal, and just a few seconds after the puck was dropped at center ice, he made a great defensive play in his own end to get the puck away from Jarome Iginla who was about to take a shot on Carey Price. Montreal took two penalties in the 2nd, and Subban wasn’t on the penalty-kill for either one of them. Jarome Iginla scored off of a deflection from Torey Krug‘s point shot at 17:58, cutting Montreal’s lead in half while Boston was on the powerplay. P.K. Subban played 7:34 in the 2nd period, bringing his total TOI for the night up to 17:29, to go along with one shot on goal and a +1 rating.
The Canadiens had 1:15 left on a powerplay to start the 3rd period, but were unable to capitalize on it. The ice surface had been bad all night long due to the humidity outside, which led to pucks bouncing all over the ice throughout the game. About 3 minutes into the period, Subban made a great play to knife the puck away from Jarome Iginla who was just outside of the slot. It could get said that the referees were calling the game too tight for a game 7, but they seemed to ease up a bit in the 3rd. P.K. is known for his ability to make great stretch passes, which is something he did all night long in Boston, clearing the puck out of his own end by making two-line connections to the offense, which led to many scoring chances for Montreal. Subban was on for the penalty-kill in the last minute of the game, and he celebrated with his teammates while the Boston fans threw trash at them once the game was over, Montreal defeating Boston by a score of 3-1. He played 8:52 in the 3rd period, and led both teams in TOI with 26:17 for the night.
Before the game, P.K. Subban told NBC analyst Pierre McGuire “We will leave game 7 standing tall”, which is exactly what Subban and the Montreal Canadiens did. Despite being a defenseman, he is leading his team in points and is tied for 5th in postseason scoring league-wide. The Habs are in the Eastern Conference Finals for the first time since 2010, and the whole league has to give Subban a ton of credit for helping his team get this far. Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Final between the Montreal Canadiens and the New York Rangers will be Saturday, May 17th at 1PM EST, and it can be seen on NBC, CBC, and RDS.