A (Fast) Learning Curve for P.K. Subban

P.K. Subban was an emergency call up before game six against the Washington Capitals after the team found out that Jaroslav Spacek's virus was more serious than initially anticipated. Subban recorded three points in his first four NHL Playoffs games adding to the two he recorded earlier this year in his only two NHL regular season games. So far against the Penguins, he has averaged nearly 22 minutes per game and has already passed Ryan O'Byrne and Marc-Andre Bergeron on the depth chart.

In his first seven NHL games, P.K. Subban looked like a 10-year veteran. He was calm defensively, always making the simple play, jumping up at the right time and taking smart chances when he felt he could. However, last night was quite the opposite as he struggled mightily in the first period. Despite being tripped, he missed the puck in the offensive zone which led to the Maxime Talbot breakaway goal and, a little later, he tried to spin and slipped which gave Evgeni Malkin a very good scoring chance. He also looked nervous early on in the defensive zone when making his first pass. Despite all that, Jacques Martin kept him in the game and gave him 22 minutes of ice time and Subban responded beautifully. He settled down, with the help of his teammates, and looked much better in the third period.

P.K. Subban was known for his incredible offensive production with the Belleville Bulls, earning 76 points in 56 games in 2008-09. He was equally impressive with the Hamilton Bulldogs with 53 points in 77 games this season but the most surprising aspect of his play was his defense. I hadn't seen Subban play much before he was called up for those two games in February but I was expecting him to look a little like Yannick Weber. A player who looks to get his slap shot off on the power play at any price and is a liability defensively. Instead, I saw a player who: is calm, moves the puck very well on the power play, understands that Scott Gomez is the player who carries the puck on the Montreal PP and, most importantly, is very solid in the defensive zone. Montreal Canadiens fans are starting to realize how good this guy is and also how much of an impact Hamilton head coach Guy Boucher had on his play.

The soon to be 21-year old still has a lot to learn but, as he said last night after the game: "it's all part of learning, you've go to enjoy that and I did." For the first time in a little while, the Montreal Canadiens have a prospect (excluding goalies) that they can be really excited about and who will be a contender for the Calder Trophy next season.

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