It was a tough year for Malcolm Subban. The 22-year-old goaltender posted poor numbers to start his third season with the Providence Bruins, finishing the month of November with an .872 save percentage. In December and January, Subban seemed to turn his fortune around for the better, posting a far better .926 save percentage in December, and .935 save percentage in January. It seemed as though he had finally found his game.
“Working with my goalie coach Bob Essensa in Providence really helped me out a lot, just being more controlled in net and just calming down instead of being everywhere, and working on depth control and stuff like that. It really helps to be more consistent and bring your game every night,” Subban said, per the Boston Herald. “I think that’s one of the biggest differences in my game, on the technical side. The team was playing really well at the time, so that obviously helps for a goaltender, too.”
The month of February was not so kind.
While warming up for his second game of the month, Subban was struck in the throat with a puck, which carried enough force to fracture his larynx. The injury would end his season.
The road to recovery has been long and frustrating for the Toronto, Ontario native.
“It was terrible.” Subban said.. “At the start, I couldn’t talk even if I wanted to. Later they just encouraged me not to talk, but at the start I couldn’t talk at all. It was frustrating. In the hospital, I used the notes (app) in my phone, then after the first few days, I started kind of whispering a bit, and then I started to talk really.”
“Just being in the hospital and not being able to talk . . . I just wanted to get back. I had a really good January, and that’s when hockey is the most fun, when you’re winning and the team’s winning. That definitely was a little setback. But I’m happy with where I am now and happy that I can keep moving forward and not let it affect my career as a goaltender.”
Subban returned to the ice in the spring, and was preparing to make a return to action when the Providence Bruins were elimination from the AHL playoffs in late April.
Now, it’s time for Subban to turn the corner, and set his eyes on next season, where he hopes to impress the Bruins management staff with a higher level of ability than they witnessed last season. With the possibility of a backup role opening up behind Tuukka Rask next season, Subban will be eager to show that he’s developed over the course of the year. His injury, of course, will make that a bit tougher.
“You never really know for sure, but obviously thinking about it, technically I would have been in better standing, ” Subban said, referencing if he had not been injured. “But it doesn’t mean I’m not in good standing right now if I have a good summer,” Subban said. “That’s all I’m focused on right now, getting into off-ice shape because when I had those two months off, I couldn’t really do anything. But after the last two months, I’ve been back in the gym and then skating in Providence, so I’m probably in better shape right now than I was at the end of last season.”
The Bruins have several goaltending prospects that will be looking to open some eyes this summer. Former Hobey Baker Nominee at the University of North Dakota Zane McIntyre will also be fighting for the spot should it remain open. Of course, the Bruins may opt to fill that role through free-agency, as they did last season.
Given Subban’s inconsistent season and injury, I wouldn’t expect to see him at TD Garden when the season kicks underway this fall. He’d have to do some serious head-turning in training camp in order to work that, however, he is remaining confident in himself.
“Especially as a goaltender, and if you look at all the other sports, being confident in yourself goes a long way,” he said. “If you don’t believe you’re able to do it, then you’re probably not going to do it. Personally, yeah, I think I’ve developed a lot over the these past three years, in spite of the injury.”
“Only time will tell, and it’s not my decision. If I come to camp and don’t play well, then I’ll make their decision a lot easier.”