This time around, the coach didn’t call out P.K. by name.
In his postgame remarks, Michel Therrien praised Subban for his effort in a third period dominated by the Canadiens en route to their 5-2 win.
And when questioned about a Too Many Men penalty in the second period, Therrien said there was miscommunication between two players, neither of whom he identified.
It was P.K. jumping on before Alexei Emelin left the ice.
The coach didn’t name names because one of the names is the best darn defenceman he’s got.
And I don’t mean Emelin.
Subban scored twice against the Islanders. His five shots on goal tied Michael Ryder for the team high on the game.
P.K. has nine goals. That’s tops among NHL defencemen. His six on the power-play – which went 2-for-4 on Long Island – tie Subban with Brian Campbell for the league lead.
Despite an overtime mistake against Buffalo that drew the ire of his coach and had everyone buzzing midweek in hockey-obsessed Montreal, P.K. has played himself into Norris Trophy consideration this season.
It’s a distinguished field: Kris Letang, Ryan Suter, François Beauchemin, that guy in Boston. But P.K. is definitely part of the conversation.
And there will be another conversation in about 12 months … or maybe less. The interlocutors will be Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin and Subban’s agent, Don Meehan.
Guy Carbonneau was on the postgame edition of L’Antichambre. Carbo rarely misses an opportunity to subtly slam the Canadiens management – notably his former friend, Bob Gainey – who fired him.
In this instance, Carbo blasted the Canadiens’ policy, under Gainey, of not negotiating contracts during the season. It had cost them Mark Streit, who liked Montreal and would have signed for less than he ended up getting from the Islanders as a UFA after the 2007-’08 season.
Other defencemen who were allowed to walk: Sheldon Souray, Mike Komisarek, Francis Bouillon.
P.K. is better – and younger – than all of them. And if Bergevin is as smart as I think he is, Subban will be signed long-term before his current two-year contract expires next season.
The joint brain fart with Emelin notwithstanding, Subban was brilliant on the Island. And he had a company, as the Canadiens showed some heart and cojones in a win that wasn’t as easy as the score suggests.
Carey Price probably won’t get enough Vezina Trophy votes to match P.K.’s Norris total.
Price has neither a dazzling GAA or save percentage. What he has is Ws – 16 of them, to tie Marc-André Fleury for the league lead.
And if Price isn’t brilliant during an Islanders power-play in the second period, maybe those third-period heroics never come to pass.
There may be more pressure-packed jobs than playing goaltender for the Montreal Canadiens. The Jeremy Renner character in The Hurt Locker worked up quite a sweat defusing IEDs. But no one went on Iraqi all-sports radio to crap on his glove-side technique.
Criticized for what looks like nonchalance, Price may have the perfect temperament so survive all the BS a Canadiens’ goalie has to endure. On L’Antichambre, Mathieu Darche praised his former teammate’s “mellow” personality.
Price has not let that mellow be harshed by all the grandstand goaltenders who pick over his technique, but the critics will not be silenced until he wins a playoff series … or four.
The Thursday night game did not offer much to indicate how your Montreal Canadiens will perform in May. For 40 minutes, they struggled under the relentless forecheck of a team that is not a Stanley Cup contender.
For a few shifts in the second period, Therrien dropped David Desharnais off his customary line, moving Lars Eller up between Brendan Gallagher and Max Pacioretty. DD – whom Bergevin signed to a new contract this week – came back strong in the third period, set up Brian Gionta’s winner and ended the game with two assists and a plus-3.
It’s interesting, however, that Eller’s 18:41 of ice time exceeded Desharnais’ and Tomas Plekanec’s. So who’s the number-one centre on this team?
And do the Canadiens need one, or can the Pleks-DD-Eller troika carry the team through a postseason run?
We may get an early answer next week, when the Canadiens play that bellwether back-to-back in Pittsburgh and Boston.
Rene Bourque should be back by then. Anyone up for some line-shuffling?
I liked the lines floated on L’Antichambre: Bourque-Plekanec-Gionta, Max-DD-Ryder (back on his natural RW), Galchenyuk-Eller-Gallagher. Brandon Prust, when he comes back, would play on the fourth line and perhaps be spotted on the Top Three when the Canadiens need a spark.
Maybe I’m overthinking and compulsively tinkering here.
The Canadiens have won 20 of their 30 starts (a level it took 53 games to reach last season) and are 11-2-2 on the road. Since that 6-0 loss to the Leafs on Feb. 9, the Canadiens have lost once in regulation time, taking points in 18 of 19 games.
This with a lineup that’s too small, a goaltender who never steals games, no scorers among the NHL’s Top 40 … and four rookies in the lineup on Long Island.
They must be doing something right.
Unlike some teams …