MONTREAL – He may have just won the Molson Cup for March, but P.K. Subban won’t be happy until he’s lifting a different Cup high over his head.
For anyone wondering what kind of P.K. Subban was going to come out of the gates after missing the first six games of the Canadiens campaign – that question has now been answered. Not only is the Habs rearguard playing some of the best defensive hockey of his career, but his offensive input has exploded in 2012-13 as he continues to rack up goals and points at a furious pace.
“P.K. is playing great hockey right now. He’s playing with confidence, he’s got a great attitude and he’s always willing to learn. We’ve asked him to be responsible when he has the puck and also when he doesn’t and that’s one aspect of his game that he’s improved upon tremendously,” praised head coach Michel Therrien, following Saturday night’s 3-0 blanking of the Rangers that saw Subban pick up assists on every one of the Habs’ three goals.
“It’s fun for the coaching staff to work with a guy like him that’s really putting in the effort and getting great results,” he added, underlining the defenseman’s singular focus this season and the ensuing payoff. “P.K. Subban has been playing inspired hockey for this team.”
Performing well enough in his own end to post a plus-10 differential after Saturday’s game against the Rangers, the three-season veteran has displayed a Midas-scoring-touch of late, picking up four goals and 12 points in his last 10 games. With a total of 27 points, Subban is now tied for second with Ryan Suter in scoring among NHL defenseman, despite having played five less games than the Minnesota blue liner, and only trails league-leader Kris Letang by a single point.
Regardless of the wealth of personal success he’s enjoyed in his latest campaign, don’t look for Subban to take any credit for the Habs win over the Rangers. According to the 23-year-old, the results came from where they always have in 2012-13 – a team effort.
“I felt we started off great. To be honest, we did the little things. It seems as soon as we scored the first goal, they started firing back, but I thought we kept doing the right things. When we got back to our game plan, we dominated,” explained Subban, who took a moment to walk the media through a tense instance early in the match when he was called for interference when his team was up by only a single goal.
“I’m usually screaming, yelling and banging my stick while I’m in the box. Obviously I was really happy to see the guys kill my penalty off for me,” he admitted. “It seems that every time I get in the box, the other team ends up scoring.”
Keeping the focus on the effort put forth by the rest of his team, Subban had no shortage of accolades for goaltender Carey Price who came up big for the Canadiens all night long in a game where they were outshot 34-26 to earn his third shutout of the year and the 19th of his career.
“To be honest, I thought it was a pretty routine game for him. The thing about Pricey is that he makes saves look easy – but a lot of those saves weren’t easy at all,” he pointed out. “Nobody’s surprised in this dressing room. He’s one of the best goaltenders in the league.”
With seven goals in March, and 10 so far in 2012-13, Subban came within one game of matching Sheldon Souray’s record as the defenseman to reach 10 goals the quickest in team history. All things considered it’s no surprise to see him walking away with Molson Cup honors for the month for the first time in his career. That said, as much as Subban might be enjoying the moment, his eyes are clearly fixed firmly on a different prize altogether.
“Every night we try to come out and execute the game plan. We’re playing the right way and we’re playing great as a team. We all want the same thing – the two points,” he stressed. “We have 14 games left and we just want to focus on finishing strong and getting ready for the post-season.”
Justin Fragapane is a writer for canadiens.com.
Game Highlights: Canadiens-Rangers