Rookie Season Yields Veteran Results
PK Subban is nothing short of the spark plug this Montreal Canadiens club has longed for for years.
Love him or hate him, he has been the focus of nearly every and all Canadiens controversies this season and his play has earned him a reputation both as one of the most skilled, talented and energetic young defensemen in the game as well as being regarded as a cheap, disrespectful yapper.
Whatever side of the fence you fall on in regards to your opinion of PK Subban, there is one thing that cannot be denied; the numbers don’t lie, this kid’s good.
In 77 games, PK racked up 38 points, 14 goals and 24 assists, including 124 penalty minutes.
The 14 goals were the most among all rookie defensemen, fifth best among all NHL defensemen.
His 24 assists with the Habs were second only Roman Hamrlik’s 29 among Habs Dmen, fourth most among rookie defensemen.
Of course the penalty minutes do stand out as Subban racked up 124 minutes in his rookie campaign, most among rookies and third most among all NHL Dmen, but it’s his youthful exuberance that accounts for many of those minutes.
Inexperience and adjusting to new competition are common difficulties for all rookies, yet the fact that he had 124 minutes in the sin bin should speak volumes to the aggression with which he plays the game. Unlike most players who wind up with plenty of penalty minutes as a rookie, it’s not because Subban can’t keep up, rather, it’s his over-involvement which draws him into so much trouble.
He’s a “never say die” type of player, always involving himself in the play. It’s not a bad thing, but it’s an element of his game that he’ll need to exercise caution with, especially in the playoffs.
It is a matter of progression, and perception.
His presence in the playoffs last spring helped stabilize the loss of Andrei Markov, yet after having to fill #79’s skates for an entire year, it’s clear that Subban has become more comfortable under the burning spotlight of the Bell Center and the eyes of the Montreal faithful.
He says all the right things and backs up his edgy play with even more hard work.
He’s a great example for young defensemen and his teammates alike as his want and need to learn more is insatiable. He wants to become better and with each and every one of the 77 games Subban skated in this season, he got better.
It may be hard to reign in the youthfulness that comes with all rookie players, yet it’s easy to forgive when his play continues to make a profound impact.
Many questions abound about the Montreal Canadiens and the possibilities of their upcoming playoff run, but it’s hard to gauge where they’ll wind up when a lot of those expectations sit on the shoulders of a 21 year old.
If Subban isn’t able to withstand the pressure of supporting the Habs blue line this spring, it’s likely all will be forgiven as, after all, he’s still a rookie learning to play a veterans game. Yet if he plays like the veteran he, at times, appears to be, there’s no telling how far he will be able to push the Canadiens this spring.
With an average ice-time of 22:16 per game, Subban skated the second most of any rookie defenseman and second most among Habs defenseman, a sign that he can handle the load.
His successful rookie season can only get better if he can maintain his level of play.
The only thing holding Subban back from becoming an even better player for the Canadiens is his exuberance.
If he can temper his penchant for taking stick penalties, and manage a greater level of control and discipline, he may have the opportunity to make a greater impact this season than anyone first thought.